Monday, March 25, 2013

OUYA: Genius or Gimmick?

I'm going to spoil the conclusion of this post by stating up front that I think it's too early to tell whether the OUYA will be a fantastic new console or a quickly-forgotten curiosity. As a programmer, a Linux user, and an Android user, I'm naturally curious about the possibility of a low-cost, Android-based game console. But there's a very vocal and confident faction on the Internet that seems convinced that the OUYA will be a waste of time.

Most of the criticisms seem to be from armchair console designers (is that a phrase?) who sneer at the supposedly underpowered hardware in the OUYA, or from weary patrons of the Google Play store who don't see any benefit in providing yet another platform for "free-to-play" revenue siphons or amateur-hour hobby efforts. And then there are those who point out that current Android phones with HDMI outputs and Bluetooth connectivity can do right now what the OUYA promises to do in a few months. Hook your phone up to your hi-def TV and pair it to your PS3 controller and you have your very own Android gaming console.

I expect it will all come down to the games. If compelling games show up on the OUYA -- games that aren't available anywhere else, or that just wouldn't be the same if you were playing them on your little phone or tablet -- then the gamers will follow. If the console gets nothing but ports of titles that are available elsewhere, then there will be no reason for folks to clutter up their house with another gaming box and stack of controllers.

I guess I'm still cautiously optimistic, and we'll see what happens once the average gamer is able to pick these things up at Target or wherever.