Ouya Schmooya, Show Me the Games

It's Android, on your TV. It's a hundred bucks and the controller looks nice. OnLive will work on it from day one, as will the Madfinger games, Canabalt, and doubtless a bunch of "illegal" emulators. I wanted one the second it went up on Kickstarter. Seems like you don't, but is that really worth 2,000 words of navel-gazing? Why are the "core gamers" so skeptical/afraid of this?

Ummm? we know what the games will look like?

This thing is an Android Smartphone, in a box, with an HDMI Video out and a Bluetooth game controller. Just poke around on the Android or Apple App stores to see what the stuff will be.

dev kit and engine costs are NOT what's keeping Indies from making AAA titles

a game like call of duty costs tens of millions on top of those costs.

dev kit and engine costs are NOT what's keeping Indies from making AAA titles

a game like call of duty costs tens of millions on top of those costs.

Onlive has now been confirmed on the OUYA, so AAA will be coming to the OUYA for sure in at least some form.

I'm a PC-only kind of guy, but hell, IF they do make a $99 game console the size of a Rubik's Cube that can actually run a bunch of games, I'm buying the shit out of that. I don't have quite enough funds and faith to let them make it happen with the kickstarter, but once this rolls out of manufacturing, I'll want one.

This article goes a pretty long way for it to finally answer its own question with "eh, I dunno".

I'm excited about the Ooooooooooo-YA!, but not so excited I'll spend money on it before it exists. I might be getting it on day one if it ever does materialize.

jindofox:
It's Android, on your TV.

Too bad they're kinda indicating more.

Why are the "core gamers" so skeptical/afraid of this?

I think that's a pretty blind response, especially since they're pushing a console experience when the closest they seem to come is...What, offering you access to a service available in its own settop and on every PC?

Uh... This article is seriously misinformed.

1. The PS3 (The most powerful current gen console) only has 256MB of DRAM. When you don't have to load the Windows Kernel and five bazillion drivers into RAM (+What your running in the background) you don't need much. (http://playstation.about.com/od/ps3/a/PS3SpecsDetails_3.htm)

2. Just because Android's front-end is optimized for mobile devices doesn't mean it isn't[1] capable of more (Its really just an optimized Linux fork written in C)

3. The market system/shite game spam problem is has a very easy solution that has been used over and over again all over the net; A user rating system.

[1] Double negative I know

I've not read the whole article yet, but I had to jump in and point out that the Xbox 360 also has only 1Gb IIRC.

I suppose it's not the size that matters do much as what you do with it???

I still say this thing will flop bigtime without a huge install base. If it was open to the android market it might be better at least then you wouldn't be dependent on devs to port it over to ohyeahyahooey. To weak, to limited, if there was some pent up demand for something like this we'd see hooking up your smartphone to you TV being a lot more popular. This will be a hobby something someone buys because they wanna slap a new android rom on it and use it as a Boxee or something.

It's going to flop and tears will be shed. Quote me on this in a year when we hear them trying to please angry supporters.

That's just what I was going to say. At the end of the article I was left wondering what the point of the article was.

Imthatguy:
1. The PS3 (The most powerful current gen console) only has 256MB of DRAM.

Yes, and it also has a 256Mb dedicated GPU RAM... whereas the Ouya would use a setup more like the 360's 512Mb of shared RAM.

When you don't have to load the Windows Kernel and five bazillion drivers into RAM (+What your running in the background) you don't need much.

Sure, you don't need much... just the expensive and time consuming optimisation of software so that it will run acceptably on limited hardware, which I'm sure can be easily replaced in the lower end of the market by elves or something.

Certainly, Windows is a bloated mess when compared to a console OS but that's not really relevent when it comes to games... the important part is the attitudes of the people involved. For consoles, the attitude is to get the best performance possible on the available hardware, to pack it all down nice and efficient so it'll fit... For PCs, assuming a developer and/or publisher can be fucked spending any effort and money on optimising a game for PCs, it will be used for adding scalable options for performance rather than crunching it down into the smallest possible size, or to put it more simply, to make use of the increased, if variable, available resources.

Guy Jackson:
I've not read the whole article yet, but I had to jump in and point out that the Xbox 360 also has only 1Gb IIRC.

You remember incorrectly, the 360 has 512Mb of shared RAM, which is prefered by programmers over the PS3's 256/256 set up because whatever RAM one component isn't using the other component can use, thus giving programmers much more flexibility.

I suppose it's not the size that matters do much as what you do with it???

To a point, yes... after which 'what you do with it' becomes entirely a question of how much money you're willing to throw at a piece of software to make it 'run better' within the given limitations.

RhombusHatesYou:

Imthatguy:

[quote]When you don't have to load the Windows Kernel and five bazillion drivers into RAM (+What your running in the background) you don't need much.

Sure, you don't need much... just the expensive and time consuming optimisation of software so that it will run acceptably on limited hardware, which I'm sure can be easily replaced in the lower end of the market by elves or something.

Excuse me if I'm wrong but doesn't the devkit help with optimization to a significant degree?

Seems to me you're deliberately misconstruing the words on the kickstarter page, Dennis, but your article concludes neutrally and sensibly so I'll let you off this time :-p

This is more than "Android smartphone" in a box... Android has been used as it's a proven open source operating system. Strip off the standard UI and replace it with their custom OUYA UI and what you have is a modern, lightweight, FREE operating system that is designed to handle heavy networking, file management and the installation of applications with whatever console specific developments they want to put on it. The finished product, although based on Android, will not BE Android..

As for graphical power, the Tegra 3 T33 chip packs quite a punch for a mobile GPU. Simply 'having a look' on the Google Play store doesn't do justice as the majority of mobile gaming apps are shovelware or made compatible with as many handsets as possible to maximise sales, not just the highest end devices that have a Tegra 3.

Developers targeting OUYA won't be making a game to run on as many Android handsets as possible, just the fixed spec of an OUYA console... Of course that doesn't stop mass targeted shovelware from being made and ported to the OUYA store but it can help reduce the amount and raise the quality of games designed specifically for it.

Whatever the outcome in March, the people involved aren't fools by any means and I'm in for $129 now to be a part of the experiment. Wish it all the best

(Double post - full one's below. Whoops. :) )

To everyone wondering what "the point" of this week's column was:

Like I said, most of the analyses thus far have been industry-focused, i.e. the potential repercussions on the console market should Ouya be a success, and what the chances are of the Ouya even being successfully launched.

Neither of those questions have anything to do with games, so I decided to pose a question about games we'd see on the system. After all, speaking as a gamer and not a game journo for the moment, the games are all I really care about.

The Random One:
This article goes a pretty long way for it to finally answer its own question with "eh, I dunno".

I'm excited about the Ooooooooooo-YA!, but not so excited I'll spend money on it before it exists. I might be getting it on day one if it ever does materialize.

Um...

Me:
If we can't even dismiss the potential visual quality we might see on a high end Ouya game, core gamers can't reasonably dismiss the potential for AAA console gaming experiences like we're used to appearing on the Ouya.

So, the answer to the question "What kind of games might we see on the Ouya?" is "They might be very similar to what we're seeing on systems right now."

Imthatguy:
Uh... This article is seriously misinformed...yadda yadda

Doesn't one have to state information incorrectly to be misinformed? I said nothing about the innards of the PS3, certainly didn't make any assessment as to the total capabilities of Android, nor did I make any statement about game marketplaces...

I think, perhaps, you may have gotten confused between opinions I expressed, or things I said, and statements made by sources I spoke with. :)

Guy Jackson:
Seems to me you're deliberately misconstruing the words on the kickstarter page, Dennis, but your article concludes neutrally and sensibly so I'll let you off this time :-p

To be fair, those were clearly *my* reactions to the Kickstarter text, not an attempt at objective assessment of meaning, and I made sure to give you the actual quotes so that you could come to your own conclusions.

I think my reading is pretty fair. They're invoking what clearly sounds like a description of mainstream console gaming and also making clear references to the indie market, which are two very different things, right?

Dennis Scimeca:

Imthatguy:
Uh... This article is seriously misinformed...yadda yadda

Doesn't one have to state information incorrectly to be misinformed? I said nothing about the innards of the PS3, certainly didn't make any assessment as to the total capabilities of Android, nor did I make any statement about game marketplaces...

I think, perhaps, you may have gotten confused between opinions I expressed, or things I said, and statements made by sources I spoke with. :)

Perhaps so however I believe I addressed several of your criticisms.

It sounds like the author of this article is deliberately trying not to understand this product. A few of the more glaring parts I take issue with:

Under the hood, the Ouya has specs that resemble a Nexus 7 tablet. It uses the Tegra 3 integrated CPU/GPU chip that was designed specifically for mobile devices. It only has 1 gig of RAM, which if you do any PC gaming sounds like a joke. 4 gigs of RAM is pretty standard by my experience and 8 gigs is preferable for a proper gaming rig. Ouya also runs on Android, which is an operating system designed for mobile devices.

But if you do any console gaming, 1 GB of RAM sounds fantastic compared to the split 256/256 megs on PS3, or the 512 megs on the 360. And considering this is a CONSOLE, not a PC, it seems to smack of journalistic dishonesty to compare a mobile gaming rig converted into console form with any mid-or-high-quality PC gaming rig, only to conclude "Ohoho! You see? It's inferior to my vastly superior PC gaming rig! That means it can't possibly be a good console! Score one for the PC master race!".

It's effectively a mobile device converted into a full-fledged console. Why would you compare it to gaming rigs for the PC? Of course it's going to be inferior to a good desktop....mobile hardware is ALWAYS inferior to desktop hardware because the latter always comes out first. You have to make it work before you can make it small.

It's like comparing any of the normal consoles to a top-of-the-line gaming PC. No one questions which one is technologically superior. There's kind of a reason for that. I really don't understand why people pretend that this is a valid way to compare the devices when it obviously doesn't hold up even under limited scrutiny.

Also worth noting that the console which made the most money in the previous generation was NOT the one with top end hardware specs, or even good software. So I'm not even sure why this is still a thing. It's obvious that a console doesn't need to have the latest in graphics to be a fun game or console, so why do people keep pretending that this is all that matters or that it's even on the table?

We love console games.
There's something about a big HD TV and digital surround sound that fills up a living room. Shooters, platformers, sports games, arcade classics and experimental indie games just feel bigger on a TV screen. It's how most of us grew up gaming.

Okay, so Ouya wants to be a platform for the kinds of games we've been playing on consoles for years, with an indie marketplace attached. That could be cool ...

That's not what the quote says at all. It doesn't directly state anywhere in this quote that the Ouya will run AAA current gen games. You're purposely quoting it out of context to misinterpret it....and for what gain, exactly?

But maybe people are missing out.
We get it - smartphones and tablets are getting all the new titles - they're "what's hot." The console market is pushing developers away. We've seen a brain drain: some of the best, most creative game makers are focused on mobile and social games because those platforms are more developer-friendly. And the ones who remain focused on console games can't be as creative as they'd like.

... oh. Ouya is going to be less about console games and more of a platform for smartphone and tablet-type games that are displayed on the television? This is a pretty important differentiation. Smartphone and tablet games are usually quitedifferent from console games in the way they function mechanically, but this could still be cool ...

This is precisely what they say on the Kickstarter page itself: that the console is designed primarily as a platform of a variety of indie developers to create fun, free gaming experiences on a cheap console without the massive costs of developing and publishing that many console games have to go through. It's an attempt to make indie gaming on consoles more of a reality. I'm not sure how you (or anyone really) managed to get confused by this. It's very clearly spelled out.

Some of the hardware experts I spoke to said that a four-core Tegra/Android machine was a far cry from current generation consoles, let alone what we're speculating on as the next generation, i.e. the Xbox 720 or PlayStation 4, and certainly wasn't close to any modern gaming PC.

I hate to contradict your unnamed "sources" but I have to disagree. In terms of hardware specifications, the Ouya's alleged specifications are roughly at par with (or in many cases, surpass) all current gen consoles. There's no question that the hardware is, in fact, better than a 360 or PS3, as well it should be....those consoles are 6 years old and grossly obsolete even by comparison to a moderate PC gaming rig (if you insist on continuing to compare consoles to PCs by hardware as if it matters).

There are really only two major problems on the Ouya and only one is hardware related. That one is the lack of storage. Its storage capacity is pretty small given that games will need to be downloaded and installed (since you lack game discs to store most of the data). That's something they'll have to correct by enabling the device to accept external storage devices, like an external HD or flash drive. No word on that yet, so we'll see.

The other questionable thing on the Ouya is the Android software, which isn't a very good software platform to build on. I'm somewhat curious about why they chose it, but I assume it's because of the ease of marketing. Much easier to transition a lot of existing mobile games to the Ouya this way.

This suggests that the Ouya won't be able to provide satisfying core gaming experiences.

God I get sick of that phrase. "Core gaming". Who are these "core" gamers and why is it always implied that they're the only people whose opinion matters? When you say "core gamers", do you mean the arrogant-as-hell people who turned up their nose at the Wii because it wasn't "hardcore" enough? They're a pretty big minority now when it comes to gaming. Mobile gaming is a MUCH larger market than those folks ever were, and the Wii has contributed at least partially to this by introducing console gaming to people other than the male teenager demographic.

We've reached a point where the pretentious "core" gamers no longer dictate the fate of the gaming market. The explosion of indie games, the mobile market, the Wii....these all succeeded on the backs of people who are anything BUT "core" gamers. And there's a hell of a lot more of them. I, for one, think it's about time the "core" gamers gave up their throne, myself. I'm actually pleased about it because it means that small developers can become breakout hits, and it means that you don't have to have a AAA logo stamped on your game box to be considered a good game any more.

In short: the hardware of the Ouya suggests that it can handle most indie games with relative ease. And even if it couldn't, who gives a shit? It's a console designed to deliver mobile gaming and indie games. I'm sick of the pretentiousness of these "core" gamers detracting from good gaming experiences.

In summary:

I'm glad that you've decided not to dismiss the console outright, but I severely question whether or not you know what it is the console is supposed to do in the first place. You repeatedly compared it to a PC (which any sensible gamer should know better than to do), mistakenly stated that it runs hardware inferior to a current gen console, and can't seem to decide whether or not it's able to run AAA games without realizing that this was never the intention of the device in the first place. A lot of your article reads like an arrogant PC gamer looking down on the tiny little indie console, and while you end by stating that you don't know what to think yet, a good portion of the article suggests you've already made up your mind and just don't want to admit it for fear of being called out as a "hipster" or similar. If indeed you genuinely wrote this article only to conclude that you have no conclusions about the console, then yes, I join the growing chorus of voices asking what the hell this article was written for.

As for myself, I recognize that the last console to achieve breakout success took advantage of a much larger market than the "core gamers" that only folks like yourself seem to care about. I also note that mobile gaming has rapidly grown to be one of the largest gaming markets on the planet, and that the development of software like Steam has caused a massive explosion of indie gaming that similarly relies on folks other than the "core gamers". So I'm not going to dismiss this thing out of hand. However, if I were to point out the aspects where I think it will struggle, and/or aspects which might cause it to fail, it would be these:
* lack of sufficient file storage
* a less-than-stellar choice of software platform
* poor cooling (due to the size constraints)
* lack of willingness for indie/mobile developers to develop games on the platform

I have to take issue with the part in this article comparing the hardware to a PC. 1gb of RAM might seem pretty low but it's still double the Xbox 360's ram. The Tegra 3 might not be quite as powerful as the Xbox 360's processor...but consider this. Ouya will be more powerful than the iPad 2 (I compare it to the iPad 2 because that's the one I have). iPad 2 has a processor on par with the Tegra 2 and has 512 mb ram. The article in fact says the hardware is comparable to that of the iPad 3.

What will Ouya games look like?

Since Ouya is more powerful than the iPad 2, it's safe to say that games on the Ouya will be able to look as good, and better than those on the iPad 2.

Here's what Shadowgun and Infinity Blade 2 look like on the iPad 2...

image
image

To put things in perspective, the Ouya is more powerful (by a longshot) than the original Xbox. We had Halo 1 and 2 and hundreds of other "core" games running on hardware inferior to that of the Ouya.

And with Ouya being completely hackable, there's no doubt that there will be emulators running on it sooner or later. Being able to play the entire NES, SNES, N64, etc. libraries on one tiny little console anyone?

To everyone focusing on the RAM issue...you're completely ignoring context, here.

Is the Wii U a seventh- or eight-generation console? What would the Ouya, then, be considered if and when it makes it to market?

By saying "the Ouya will have more RAM than the current-generation," you're not saying much about the Ouya's power. You're saying "It's better than the last generation," which would be a bare minimum expectation for large portions of the audience. The question is whether or not it will have specs that match up to the PS4 or the Xbox 720. That's going to be the context in which the Ouya is judged by the mainstream gaming audience, or the people who only buy one system and who only buy a few games a year, when they make their choice as to what console to purchase.

Don't think that just because the Ouya will only be $99 (if they can keep that promise) you'll suddenly see consumers doubling up on their consoles. Plenty of people will wait to hear what the 720 or PS4 (or whatever they wind up being called) are going to look like under the hood before they purchase another console.

We're long past the point where consoles are completely different hardware beasts than the gaming PC. IMO it would have been silly to compare the N64 or the GameCube to a PC, but as of the sixth generation the difference between consoles and PCs has been blurred. You may not care for comparing specs like this but others are going to whether anyone likes it or not, and so I addressed the point.

It may not be much in the grand scheme of things but Square Enix announced Final Fantasy III. A lot of Android games will likely be ported to this platform, especially if their always online DRM as has been speculated.

Dennis Scimeca:
To everyone focusing on the RAM issue...you're completely ignoring context, here.

Is the Wii U a seventh- or eight-generation console? What would the Ouya, then, be considered if and when it makes it to market?

By saying "the Ouya will have more RAM than the current-generation," you're not saying much about the Ouya's power. You're saying "It's better than the last generation," which would be a bare minimum expectation for large portions of the audience. The question is whether or not it will have specs that match up to the PS4 or the Xbox 720. That's going to be the context in which the Ouya is judged by the mainstream gaming audience, or the people who only buy one system and who only buy a few games a year, when they make their choice as to what console to purchase.

Don't think that just because the Ouya will only be $99 (if they can keep that promise) you'll suddenly see consumers doubling up on their consoles. Plenty of people will wait to hear what the 720 or PS4 (or whatever they wind up being called) are going to look like under the hood before they purchase another console.

We're long past the point where consoles are completely different hardware beasts than the gaming PC. IMO it would have been silly to compare the N64 or the GameCube to a PC, but as of the sixth generation the difference between consoles and PCs has been blurred. You may not care for comparing specs like this but others are going to whether anyone likes it or not, and so I addressed the point.

It is Tegra 3, of course its not going to be as powerful as "PS4" or xbox720. You sir are looking pretty foolish. This is not a competitor to the next generation consoles, these are competing for another segment of gamers. People won't be comparing specs if the hardware is $99 and the games are cheap or F2P.

They've just announced a partnership with Square-Enix, and are apparently getting the original FF3 (not FF6, the one that was remade for DS).

Mygaffer:
This is not a competitor to the next generation consoles, these are competing for another segment of gamers.

Who, then, would be the potential audience for the Ouya if not the console gaming audience?

Also...

Mygaffer:
You sir are looking pretty foolish.

Article:
Some of the hardware experts I spoke to said that a four-core Tegra/Android machine was a far cry from current generation consoles, let alone what we're speculating on as the next generation, i.e. the Xbox 720 or PlayStation 4, and certainly wasn't close to any modern gaming PC.

It's good to differentiate between the author of an article and the person they were talking to. :)

Dennis Scimeca:

Mygaffer:
This is not a competitor to the next generation consoles, these are competing for another segment of gamers.

Who, then, would be the potential audience for the Ouya if not the console gaming audience?

Also...

Mygaffer:
You sir are looking pretty foolish.

Article:
Some of the hardware experts I spoke to said that a four-core Tegra/Android machine was a far cry from current generation consoles, let alone what we're speculating on as the next generation, i.e. the Xbox 720 or PlayStation 4, and certainly wasn't close to any modern gaming PC.

It's good to differentiate between the author of an article and the person they were talking to. :)

You know I saw the link to the thread directly through the "featured threads" section and didn't realize this was an article, so I do apologize. Although I was responding to your comment further down in the thread, not necessarily anything from the original news post.

In any case I won't claim to know who will end up buying this console, if anyone, but I could make some educated guesses. PC gamers who want a cheap and open platform which they can play on couch in their living room. Casual gamers attracted by the price point and what I assume will be a bevy of "casual" games. Thirdly parents of young children who are again attracted by the low price point.

The OUYA, of which I am actually fairly skeptical, doesn't have to do a ton of business to be successful. The Kickstarter alone will give them a pretty good installed user base as soon as they actually start shipping units. A lot of successful mobile developers may see that as enough reason to port games over that can work with a controller, or retool them to work with a controller.

In any case it will be interesting to see how the OUYA pans out in the marketplace.

I think many people have slightly the wrong focus with the OUYA. I think what they are aiming at is more the delivery of streaming gaming and movie services. If you can play streaming like Onlive, you could potentially be playing Crysis3 on full specs, on a tiny cheap device. Take that together with movies and emulators and you can have a lot of worth for hardly any money.

 

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