The Ouya video game console, scheduled to arrive in stores June 25.(Photo: Ouya)
By Brett Molina, USA TODAY
The video game console wars welcome a new combatant.
marks the arrival of Ouya, the home video-game console born through
crowd-funding and introducing a lower-price alternative to higher-price
"The consoles are still incredibly expensive," Ouya
CEO Julie Uhrman says. "The business model hasn't changed. We offer
something very different. We really carved out our own space."
veteran Uhrman joined Yves Behar, the console's product designer and
chief creative officer of audio hardware company Jawbone, to create
Ouya. It was unveiled last July through a campaign on crowd-funding site
Kickstarter, raising more than $8.5 million in one month. Early
versions of the Ouya (pronounced "ooo-yah") shipped to backers in March.
$99 device has since attracted big retailers, including Amazon.com,
Best Buy and Target. More than 150 digital games will be available at
launch, from indie titles such as BombSquad to games from big publishers such as Square Enix's Final Fantasy III. A handful of entertainment apps will also be available.
price is far lower than traditional video game consoles, which range
from $250 to $500. "You really have something that's quite compelling
for someone that doesn't have a lot of money, but they want to get a
game console in their living room," says Gartner analyst Brian Blau.
which is the size of a Rubik's Cube, boasts the traditional features of
a home gaming console, including HDMI inputs for high-definition TVs
and a controller similar to what's found on a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360.
its DNA is mobile in nature. It runs on a version of Google's Android
operating system, with games priced as low as $2 to $3. All titles
hosted on Ouya will be required to provide free demos before purchase.
like smartphones, new versions of Ouya will launch on an annual basis.
The standard home video game console cycle runs between 4 to 6 years.
"The $99 price point is very attractive and conducive to replacing a device every year," says Al Hilwa of IDC.
faces several hurdles. The console won't boast the technical advantages
of future devices such as Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation
4, with realistic graphics and superior processing power. Uhrman
disputes the value of console horsepower.
"Those are all nice to
have, but at the end of the day, the only thing the gamer cares about is
that games are fun to play," Uhrman says.
On top of battling the
Xbox, PS4 and Nintendo's Wii U, the Ouya must contend with the rising
smartphone and tablet gaming market. "They have a lot of competition,"
Ouya won't just battle for video game players. Securing
top-notch developers will also be crucial to how well the console
performs, Blau says. "If those game developers spend their time and
resources to produce games, and they're not able to monetize users in a
way that's profitable for them, they will abandon the platform."
says Ouya's success will come down to content. "The quality of the
games, the quality of the playing experiences ultimately is going to
decide whether this really wins or not," he says.