Los Angeles based OUYA is working on a new Android gaming system, and it’s sticking a “hack me” sign on its back. Nearly $4 million have been crowd-sourced in a day of Kickstarter fundraising for the OUYA, a $99 system designed entirely to make low-cost, indie-developed games available to play on your TV. Sound familiar?
The process mirrors the plight of mobile games in the past five years. Users have shifted away from Nintendo’s DS and Playstation’s Portables, opting instead to play on their phones and tablets. Without corporate hoops to jump through, Indie developers brought us games like “Angry Birds,” “Draw Something” and “Words With Friends,” some of the most unique and addictive games in recent memory.
But why has the revolution been limited to our tiny, pocket-sized screens? What is holding garage developers from getting their quirky, thoughtful games onto our televisions?
Jeremy Hibnick, an associate producer for Naked Sky Entertainment with credits on more than 40 game titles, was one of the project’s many donors. He posted a link to Kickstarter on his Facebook page, encouraging his industry friends to pitch in, writing, “supporting Ouya is supporting television gaming as a platform for indie developers, and will hopefully bring innovation back to the living room. As a game developer who has experienced the difficulty and extreme cost of delivering a title to console, I think there is nothing but promise in a low-cost, indie-fueled, low barrier of entry console that delivers the television experience I love.”
The OUYA team has even gone as far as to encourage their system to be hacked for projects of any nature. They’ve offered live video-streaming of twitch.tv as an early example of what can be done with the system’s hardware. OUYA gathered its 30,000 backers and $4 million in funds in one day mostly by promising their supporters first dibs on the system at their market price of $99.
The system, which is based on Android, is being designed by fuseproject, the design agency responsible for the Jambox and the OLPC XO laptop. It has the guts of a tablet — a quad-core Tegra 3 processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, Bluet00th, and WiFi.
Even if the OUYA fails to incite a revolution, it might help indie developers in the long run. If their games gain popularity on the new system, consoles might come calling to usher their games up to the major leagues of Xbox Live and the Playstation Store, as has happened with many popular mobile games. If the system does take off, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony and perhaps even the Apple TV might be forced to ease the entry barrier for independent games in general.
What do you think, are you excited for indie games on your big screen? Do you have room in your living room for another box? Have you donated to OUYA or any other indie game developers through Kickstarter?