There’s a fascinating new toy on Kickstarter called Ouya, an Android-powered video game console. I’m fascinated by the device itself, as well as its amazingly successful Kickstarter campaign. I shouldn’t be surprised any more when a clever product nets millions in startup capital on Kickstarter, but $4 million in 3 days ($2 million by the end of day one) seems a pretty clear indicator of the market’s desires. I’m fascinated by the concept and implementation, but there’s so much more to this project.
What’s officially on the table is already an amazing proposition, best expressed by their very own project video:
For those who can’t/won’t watch the video, the basic idea is that it’s far too hard for indy developers to get their titles on traditional consoles but the mobile game market is thriving. Part of the reason it thrives is that it’s open and accessible. It’s both cheap and easy to get into the Android market (so cheap and easy that even I’ve done it) and it’s fairly (though somewhat less) easy and inexpensive, assuming you already own a Mac, to get into the iOS market. Further, there’s a big demand for open harware, OS and software that Android is rapidly filling in the mobile and tablet markets but the console market is still barren of decent open soft/hardware. It seems almost natural for Android to step in and claim a spot in this space.
What the Ouya folks aren’t advertising is something that’s brutally obvious to someone like myself who’s got multiple set-top boxes and no cable bill: An Android console would make one seriously amazing media system. The idea of porting XBMC to Android has already been kicked around, but as the folks paying a monthly subscription fee to XBox live for the privilege of viewing Netflix and Hulu Plus – services they also already pay a monthly fee for – are fully aware, consoles tend to make very nice media centers. At $99 it’s roughly the price of a Roku or AppleTV or similar set-top boxes, and runs an open OS for which a huge number of apps already exist. It’s bound to be a better set-top box than anything I’ve yet used, so even if it fails as a gaming device it should still succeed at a role that it was never even intended for.