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No-Name Console Challenging PS3 & Xbox Closed Gaming Model

By Tony Ibrahim | Thursday | 12/07/2012

The world's largest funding platform for creative projects, KickStarter, is underway and has spawned a radical gaming console that challenges the entire closed model perpetuated by today's gaming industry.

The greatest historical moments involve the underdog standing up, and in an act of defiant protest, doing something radically different to the norm. At first, they're persecuted by the big players, martyred for daring to instigate needed change, but over time the numbers see reason and join the cause. Such a moment is transpiring now, as you read these words.

The current gaming climate is a closed scene, with a lot of red-tape and company rules stifling innovation. Before a game developer can begin creating a game, a license has to be paid, and even then programming a game for Sony and Microsoft's consoles aren't easy.

So we have creative minds just itching to unchain their inspired ideas, only to be held back by a closed model that is expensive to buy into. This all sounds like regression.

There's one new kid on the block that thinks so, and has made their public stand at Kickstarter. They're pledging a new kind of console—called Ouya—that focuses on open gaming.

The form of the current prototype could change as its design matures. Currently the designer of the Jawbone Jambox, Yves Behar, is designing the console, particularly focusing on the remote control.

Ouya is turning to everyday, open-sourced Android to power its software. If Android sounds familiar, it's probably because you're one of the million people daily who buy a new Google Android smartphone. The platform already has a following and developers are familiar with its programming language. Better yet, they won't have to buy expensive licenses or software development kits, as the Ouya console is the developer kit. Its open source nature encourages developers (and hackers) to modify and tweak the console, egging them on to learn all things about it. Anyone with the skillset will be able to program games, and although there will be a lot of second rate titles on offer, they'll be matched by some first rate releases.

At first the games might not be as good as those around on the mature Sony and Microsoft offerings, but an Ouya console will only cost $99 and that's just 10% of the cost Sony's 60GB PS3 was at launch. The low price could see this console featured in every living room, and by having a ubiquitous presence, more developers will be encouraged to program for the console because they'll reach more eyeballs.

The Ouya Dashboard

If we're honest with one another, good graphics aren't a requisite. At home, I power my PlayStation 3 and stretch its muscles from time to time. But when I'm with my friends, modern consoles are the last things we turn to for entertainment. In fact, it's Virtua Tennis 2 (2001, PS2), Jonah Lomu Rubgy (1997, PS1) and 007 Goldeneye (1997, Nintendo64). Their graphics might be dated, their controls unrealistic and work only half the time, but these examples transform the virtual into an intimate real life encounter. For hours, the one thing I want to do is beat my dear friend—and by extraordinary amounts—in whichever game we're going toe-to-toe in.

It's a case of 'getting back to your roots' and the gaming industry's roots lie in the arcade, with free standing PacMan machines egging on an unbeknownst smile. Unfortunately the content driven, socially unifying and downright pricey consoles are too busy trying to be versatile appliances.

Whereas consoles are converging—all producing the same thing in a different flavour—the Ouya console wants to spark something radically different. It doesn't want to be just another serious player, it wants to play games.

Its announcement at the Kickstarter conference has been marked by broken records, indicating there is demand for such a product. It is the fastest product to reach the million dollar mark, in 8 hours and 22 minutes, and for reaching $2,589,687.77 within 24 hours. It almost tripled its $950,000 goal within the first day thanks to the pledges of 28,500 interested gamers and developers.

To keep up with demand, Mashable reports Ouya has had to increase the amount of consoles available from 1,000 to 80,000, with each one setting interested owners back $99. There' still 28 days before pledging ends and the project is funded, but in the meantime eager gamers will cross their fingers and hope Ouya don't lost sight of their utopic vision.

Check out the Ouya Official video on Kickstarter's page by clicking here

Ouya Specs (largely resemble a smartphone)

Tegra3 quad-core processor
8GB of internal flash storage
HDMI connection to the TV, with support for up to 1080p HD
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth LE 4.0
USB 2.0 (one)
Wireless controller with standard controls (two analog sticks, d-pad, eight action buttons, a system button), a touchpad
Android 4.0

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