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Startup Aims For $99, Android-Powered TV Game Console 194

Posted by Soulskill
from the unification-of-devices dept.
rodrigoandrade writes "Ouya is a new Android-based home console that aims to bring to the living room the $0.99 games business model that has worked so well for Apple. The device 'will allow developers to easily create and sell their games and be fully “hackable” — anyone will be able to pull the machine apart and tinker with it to their heart’s content.' They're planning on shipping by March 2013. Admittedly, it's vaporware so far, but it could turn the industry on its head, effectively putting an end to the things we all hate about modern console gaming ($60 games, DLC, DRM, endless sequels, movie tie-ins, etc.)"
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Startup Aims For $99, Android-Powered TV Game Console

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  • by melonman (608440) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @01:45PM (#40604497) Journal

    In France, where almost all domestic broadband is "triple play" (phone, TV and Internet), at least two of the major ISPs offers gaming as part of the functionality of their latest glorified router package. You can't get much easier to install than "It's already there", and the ISPs already have a distribution model that they use to sell view-on-demand video.

    • by rsborg (111459) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @01:56PM (#40604683) Homepage

      In France, where almost all domestic broadband is "triple play" (phone, TV and Internet), at least two of the major ISPs offers gaming as part of the functionality of their latest glorified router package. You can't get much easier to install than "It's already there", and the ISPs already have a distribution model that they use to sell view-on-demand video.

      What kind of content do they offer? Bejeweled? Card games? What's the controller like?

      At the end of the day, "just showing up", though important, doesn't help when the content or usability are weak. That's like the VOD I have for Dish Network - completely uninterested, even if it was free - there's better stuff on Netflix or Amazon Video and it's easier to access those with a Roku.

      • by Narishma (822073)

        Here's what the "controller [dimk1t.free.fr]" (really just a TV remote) on mine looks like.

        As for the games, it's mostly smartphone-type games (Angry Birds, Bejeweled, Gameloft's stuff, etc...).

  • Yeah, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kergan (780543) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @01:46PM (#40604511)

    The $.99 business model only works for ios devs because there are millions of devices in the wild. How many do they plan to sell? It's not like standard android apps blow up to the size of tablets or --worse-- tv screens is attracting customers by the millions.

    • Re:Yeah, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Skarecrow77 (1714214) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @01:53PM (#40604625)

      That's not even to mention that there is a huge disparity in quality between $0.99 games and $60 games.

      Don't get me wrong, there are a TON of shit games released for full consoles that aren't worth $6, let alone $60, and there are a ton of excellent games available for android/ios that are easily worth the $1, $2, or even up to $5 price tags that go along with them...

      but you aren't going to ever get a Diablo III / Mass effect / Modern Warfare / etc level game on android/ios for $1. ain't happening. sheer logistics of development team size.

      and i'm cool with that. there's no need to have only one or the other. we can have both.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        For those kinds of games OnLive is one solution that would work with a $50 console.

      • by alen (225700)

        ok, i've played all the ME3 games and while good they are not that special. same with CoD and most other games i see.

        walk in straight line, shoot from cover, repeat. add in a few cut scenes and dialogue for story. same with all the hyped games from E3 like last of us and tomb raider. the graphics are nice but the gameplay is crappola. reminds me of the mid 1990's "interactive movie" fad. except it was watch cut scene, do some quick game play, repeat.

    • The $.99 business model only works for ios devs because there are millions of devices in the wild. How many do they plan to sell?

      If the product can play Netflix video, they can sell it as a Netflix box that also plays Facebook and video games. Apple TV doesn't have video games unless you count beaming an iPad app, in which case you still need an external Bluetooth gamepad (sold separately) in order to be able to see what you're doing.

      • by glop (181086)

        The Roku with the game remote is about 85$ or so. But it doesn't run Android unfortunately, so you need to write proprietary scripts and there is no browser etc.
        Apart from not running Android, the main issue with the Roku is that it's not open and they take steps to block cool scripts and websites that allow you to access Youtube or Hulu or other normal video sites. Apparently Roku has to be cosy with content producers and middlemen and so they make sure you can't use the Roku as a cheap and convenient PC.

        • The Roku is also vastly underpowered to do anything with a web browser (on purpose - Roku strives to be simple and cheap), and yes, they probably do need to keep cozy with content providers, for various reasons. Roku's got by far the largest variety of channels, so they're doing something well. And don't fool yourself - NONE of the set-top boxes (that aren't also HTPCs) will play regular Hulu or anything else that's specifically "web only". Right or wrong, that's just how things are going with content right

      • But the PS3 already does Netflix and Facebook and casual games, plus a fuckton of PSone games either on disk or from PSN (PS2 games on disk as wel, if you have an older model), and if you don't want a PS3 there's the various Roku boxes, the higher end ones can do Angry Birds (and other games too I think)

    • Re:Yeah, but... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by flitty (981864) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @02:02PM (#40604803)
      It's a foot in the door though. Android (and portable) gaming has no central hub. The first company to create one that supports a controller, a ranking system, and an ecosystem of development will take hold of the space. I'm honestly surprised that Steam hasn't done anything yet in mobile gaming.

      If you can create an open box like this with a store and a controller, the TV box becomes secondary to the store and the OS compatability. The store is there to enforce a few rules (supports free gameplay in any form, even if just a demo, no hax, possibly multiplayer, will run on the set top box, etc), then you can use that storefront to refine the purchase of games. For instance, you could show correctly if a game has the information to scale to a TV size screen, or back down to a phone size. You also get a controller with standardized input, which is a huge deal for games. I think that if this is successful, it will be a huge win for indie gaming and gaming advancement in general. It won't kill more powerful consoles, but it is filling a hole in the market.
      • I'm honestly surprised that Steam hasn't done anything yet in mobile gaming.

        Valve would rather sell the games normally on PCs for $50-60 for $20, rather than sell apps that normally sell for $0.99.

        In other words, Valve already has their market and apparently it's doing very, VERY well.

      • Re:Yeah, but... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by S77IM (1371931) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @05:46PM (#40607799)

        I'm honestly surprised that Steam hasn't done anything yet in mobile gaming.

        Why do you think they are working on a Linux client for Steam? Android is a type of Linux. Steam on Ouya could disrupt the shit out of everybody.

          -- 77IM

    • Re:Yeah, but... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Belial6 (794905) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @02:56PM (#40605605)
      That is one of the nice things about Android. It is specifically designed to handle multiple resolutions. That means that the difference between a TV size optimized game and a phone size optimized game can be as little as exporting your graphic resources at different resolutions. The device is a $99 device. It doesn't have to solve every problems, or be the height of technology. Making any product is always a feature/quality tradeoff with cost to manufacture. This company obviously believes that for a lot of people, MS, SONY, and even Nintendo have pushed the cost of manufacture too high.

      My guess is that they are right. I know that I would be satisfied with moving backwards a generation in console power to get out from under the thumb of the big three. Last generation's systems were pretty darn good.
      • by s73v3r (963317)

        That is one of the nice things about Android. It is specifically designed to handle multiple resolutions. That means that the difference between a TV size optimized game and a phone size optimized game can be as little as exporting your graphic resources at different resolutions.

        While it can be, apps that take that approach to supporting both phones and tablets turn out to be absolute shit, especially on tablets. There's a LOT more to supporting larger resolutions than simply making everything bigger.

    • Remember that this has the same hardware and the same OS as Tablets that are getting released now. From wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

      Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime, IdeaTab K2 / LePad K2, Acer Iconia Tab A510, Acer Iconia Tab A700, LG Optimus 4X HD, HTC One X, ZTE Era, ZTE PF 100, ZTE T98, Toshiba AT270, Toshiba AT300 (Excite 10), Asus Tablet 610, Fuhu Inc. nabi 2 Tablet, Asus Nexus 7, Asus Transformer 300 and 700.

      So anybody who has written an app that runs on any of those tablets/devices just has to add the ability for the

      • A developer can make a game for the OUYA and then produce a touchscreen input version of the game for the tablets listed above

        How would that work for something like a platformer or a fighting game without an expensive external Bluetooth gamepad? A touch screen displaying a virtual gamepad is completely flat, and the player's thumbs can't find the on-screen buttons by feel.

  • Where is the market?

    Anyone that has a decent enough TV to want to use it for Android apps is also likely to already have:
    - a games console
    - a PC/laptop
    - a smartphone

    $99 price point will never cover any real marketing cost so this is a niche geek product at best

    And with the lack of depth of $0.99 games there is not a hope of "turing the industry on its head"

    Destined for failure in my books!

    • Anyone that has a decent enough TV to want to use it for Android apps is also likely to already have:
      - a games console

      Unless they want to go beyond the selection of games that the console makers allow to be ported to the consoles.

      - a PC/laptop

      Say you have friends over, and they didn't all happen to bring gaming laptops and copies of the same game. In this case, games that run on something connected to your TV are a better choice for multiplayer than most PC games because most PC games don't support multiple gamepads. This in turn is because statistically nobody (outside the geek demographic that reads Slashdot) uses a PC with a TV-size

      • - a smartphone

        There are several genres of video games that don't work on a smartphone because they really need a gamepad, and something like the iControlPad doesn't come bundled with most smartphones. What sort of control method is workable for a platformer or a fighting game on a smartphone?

        Atleast Android does support gamepads, ie. if you have an Android phone just plug it in your TV and game away.

      • by alen (225700)

        most people will just get the apple TV and iCrap of their choice then. lots of games in the app store unless you want an emulator to play old games

        • The problem with "apple TV and iCrap of their choice" is that it's far more expensive. You need an iPod touch ($200) to run the game, an iControlPad ($62) to control it, and an Apple TV ($100) to display it on the television. Without an iControlPad, you can't feel where your fingers are relative to the buttons. And I'm not even sure iOS supports more than one gamepad for multiplayer.
      • Say you have friends over, and they didn't all happen to bring gaming laptops and copies of the same game. In this case, games that run on something connected to your TV are a better choice for multiplayer than most PC games because most PC games don't support multiple gamepads.

        I have a device, made by Microsoft no less, that allows me to connect 4 wireless Xbox 360 controllers to my PC. It sells with 1 controller for $41 from Amazon [amazon.com], which is $2 more than the same controller [amazon.com] sells for alone.

        • most PC games don't support multiple gamepads

          I have a device, made by Microsoft no less, that allows me to connect 4 wireless Xbox 360 controllers to my PC.

          I too own a USB hub allowing connection of four wired game controllers. It's just that the big-name PC games tend not to support multiple gamepads plugged into such an adapter for $ome rea$on [cracked.com]. Quoting David Wong:

          Sorry, you know damned well that technical limitations aren't the reason everyone is dropping split screen. [...] You're dropping it because four players on a split screen are playing off one $60 copy of the game. Four players playing online need four copies ($240).

          Have you any suggestion for good

      • by s73v3r (963317)

        Sorry, but those explanations are pretty tenuous at best. This thing still has some pretty big hurdles to jump, especially competition from games consoles. The idea that people want to "go beyond the selection of games that console makers allow" is pretty shaky, as most console makers allow quite a wide variety, and most people are satisfied with the selection there. And in order for that to be a draw, the stuff they wouldn't ordinarily get has to be pretty substantial, and it's doubtful you'd get any kind

        • And in order for that to be a draw, the stuff they wouldn't ordinarily get has to be pretty substantial

          Lots of PC games have user-created mods through a game-developer-approved mechanism. What console games have such mods? If Half-Life were a console game, would there have been a Counter-Strike? If Warcraft III were a console game, would there have been a DotA?

    • $99 price point will never cover any real marketing cost so this is a niche geek product at best

      At $99 the hardware will be pretty lackluster, probably a dual-core system with Mali 400 or similar with 1GB RAM and 2GB flash storage. That simply makes the system way, way too restricted for actual console-quality games, you just can't fit tens of gigabytes of content in 2 to 4 gigabytes of storage, let alone render it all at even PS3-level quality. In other words I agree with you: this is nothing new, this is not revolutionary, and this won't catch on with Average Joes.

      • Of course, you could read the article and find out. ;)

        Tegra 3 — Quad-core processor
        1 GB LPDDR2 RAM
        8 GB on-board flash
        ...
        Bluetooth LE 4.0

        Storage could be an issue. If they put an SD card into it, storage would be greatly expanded. Too bad :/

        • Ah, someone commented "It is mentioned in another article that it has an SD card slot and a USB port."

          SD card slot raises it to at least 64+8gb.

  • It will die on the vine, or be a dismal flop.

    Reasons:

    Lack of quality game titles.

    A quality game requires a higher pricing point. Perhaps not the collusion based MSRP of 60$, but definately more than 99 cents. Further, the openness of the console will permit cheats and hacks, which are known to be deleterious to online game communities.

    Underpowered hardware (comparably.)

    The console will be more anemic than even the wii is. A Tegra based system is chumpchange compared to what's inside CURRENT gen consoles, l

    • A quality game requires a higher pricing point.

      I agree, and one possible compromise between 99 cent games and $60 games is to split a game into 45-minute episodes (like a TV series) and sell each for a buck or two (also like a TV series).

      The console will be more anemic than even the wii is.

      Wii's AMD Hollywood GPU is roughly comparable in fillrate to a Radeon 9000, and the Xenos in the Xbox 360 is like a Radeon X1900. Which GPU on Tom's chart [tomshardware.com] comes closest to the specs of a Tegra 3?

      A simple software tweak, and those nextgen consoles would be able to more than emulate the proper environment for the android console's titles

      But the console makers probably won't choose to emulate Android because if they did, Android titles would compete with native

      • Wii's AMD Hollywood GPU is roughly comparable in fillrate to a Radeon 9000, and the Xenos in the Xbox 360 is like a Radeon X1900. Which GPU on Tom's chart comes closest to the specs of a Tegra 3?

        nVidia's specs page [nvidia.com] for the Tegra 3 are a bit on the light side with performance details. "3D Performance Relative to Tegra 2" is the only performance metric they give, which is, needless to say, completely useless when trying to compare them to any real 3D cards.

        So, I checked with Wikipedia (which could very well be wrong).

        Looking at the list of clock speeds and pixel shaders for the Tegra 3 graphics core and the other GeForce graphics cores, the fastest version of it appears to run at about the same cloc

  • by Shados (741919) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @02:16PM (#40605001)

    Right now take a transformer prime, plug it with a 3 bucks HDMI cable to your TV, and use any xbox 360 controller that would work with a PC (wifi or wired, both will work, but for wifi you need that PC adapter thing), load up Sonic 4, Showgun or whatever and you're there, albeit at a vastly higher price point than even a normal console because, well, its a full feature tablet.

    Not surprised someone would cut cost by removing the screen/battery/etc and call it a day.

  • Having been through the Phantom [wikipedia.org], I'll believe it when I see it.

  • The device 'will allow developers to easily create and sell their games and be fully ''hackable'' --- anyone will be able to pull the machine apart and tinker with it to their heart's content.'

    The gamer simply wants to play games.

    The console maker offers a broad range of services and a clearly name-branded console-oriented community of gamers and other users.

    The purchase of a Wii comes with a different set of expectations then the PS3 or XBox 360.

    But console gaming has always been meat-space, couch-friendly, social. That is not the Android market.

    PC and console gaming is cyclical: what is hot today is cold tomorrow.

    That is true in both hardware and software.

    You can see this in the listings a

    • I agree. But Apple already has its stars aligned to succeed with this business model already. That just have to release a newer iOS for Apple TV, and perhaps a newer Apple TV that sports better 3D hardware. You just purchase and play online through the App Store. The same store with an account that's bound to perhaps an existing iPad, iPhone, and MacBook.

      Apple really has their stuff together with the iOS platform. Make no mistake about that. BTW, this wouldn't be Apple's first entry into the home TV console

  • I don't get $60 games. Just wait a while, and the majority of them end up coming down to around $20, new.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      If you want the full multiplayer experience for a multiplayer game, it makes some sense to buy it right away. Or if you just can't wait, I get the idea. I've bought a few games new at full price over the years; the last one was GTA IV and the next one will probably be GTA V, if it ever @#$%$@# comes out.

      • by mattack2 (1165421)

        OK, I don't play multiplayer (except very very rarely in person), that's one exception.

        Though heck, I bought GTA IV for somewhere around my $20 pseudo-limit, I should have waited for the complete edition with the two addons, which is $20 nowadays.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          I paid $40 and $20 for those two discs respectively, didn't quite buy at the top of the curve. Will probably replicate that experience unless I'm into something else when GTAV comes out. I don't think I'll have any trouble finishing FFXII before that happens, though.

  • Not bloody likely! Angry Birds is testament to that.
  • I can't wait to play Combat or Air-Sea Battle on this thing.

    I hear they are rushing to get Pacman and E.T. out before Christmas 2013, too!

    • This! People say, "ZOMG! Nintendoze is doomz!!! mak 99c iphone gamze!!11!!!" But I see history repeating itself. Low quality software killed the 2600. High quality software made the NES a success.

  • You can't take it apart, but you can hook up your iPhone 4+ or iPad to a projector or TV with Apple's VGA cable [apple.com] (also comes in composite and HDMI). And from a programming perspective, you can address the device's screen and the video output independently. Some games support it and it's pretty cool on the projector! And iPad 2&3 can mirror the built-in display to the video out.

    It's funny to me that this video-out feature hasn't been marketed and exploited more. Apple doesn't make it very easy for de
  • Not only do I think the idea is a winner from a financial point of view, but also bringing social gaming (ie. multiple people in the same room) to Linux is a very good thing, too.
  • by Yosho (135835) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @12:46AM (#40610915) Homepage

    I don't check or post on Slashdot nearly as often as I used to, and the comments on this article illustrate why.

    I mean, look at this. You've got a small team of people who are designing a product that is explicitly intended to be open and hackable. It's cheap, it's stylish, it runs Linux, and they're reaching out to the indie gaming community for support. They've more than doubled their initial goal in under 24 hours and are probably still reeling at the concept of what just happened. The news is sweeping across gaming sites and people are excited to see what's going to happen next.

    And the comments on this Slashdot article are overwhelmingly negative. You've got people saying that nobody will want to develop software for a hackable device (like Android or Windows), there's no market for it (the $2M worth of investments so far seem to disagree), you can get cheap Chinese knockoff Android devices cheaper (LOL, just LOL), and some people are even saying it's vaporware like the Phantom. Seriously, the Phantom? That project was started by a guy who had a history of running investment scams. The people who are behind the Ouya are recognized names in the gaming industry and have the support of a lot of indie developers. There's no guarantee that this will end up being a big commercial success, of course, but you clearly haven't even taken a look at it if you think this is a second Phantom.

    Slashdot, what happened to you?

    • I'm pretty sure the main use of the internet both today and in the past (usenet) was for geeks to defend an uninformed position to the death. The neglect of Slashdot is causing it to revert to a natural state.

      But do agree with you. And I think the positions people have taken are so negative as to be absurd.

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