Update: Open Source Android Console Fully Funded with $1 Million

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Update: Open Source Android Console Fully Funded with $1 Million

The Kickstarter campaign for Ouya blew up this morning.

Update: Since I originally posted this story three hours ago, the Kickstarter campaign to fund the Ouya Android console doubled its funding total. The campaign is fully funded with more than $990,000 raised, and by the time I press the publish button, the total will likely be more than $1 million. I guess the little startup Ouya struck a nerve.

Original: One startup company believes the problem with videogames these days is the stale business model. Hardware makers sell their development kits at a high price to companies, which are then forced to spend hundreds of millions of dollars creating AAA games that will sell to the masses. The quality of what that market produces suffers because no one is willing to bet that much money on a neat or original idea. Hence endless sequels. Ouya wants to shake all that up by offering a completely open source console with an Android backbone and a stylish design for $99. Games on the Ouya console will be free to play, and Ouya will provide a free development kit to anyone who wants one. The plan even encourages hacking, allowing the curious to take apart the box and tinker to their heart's content. The news of the console broke a week ago, but Ouya's Kickstarter campaign went up today, and it seems more than 4,500 people (at press time) think an open source Android gaming console is a great idea. The goal is to raise $950,000 and after one day they are already halfway there.

The brains behind Ouya see the writing on the wall. "We get it - smartphones and tablets are getting all the new titles - they're 'what's hot.' The console market is pushing developers away," the campaign pages reads. "We've seen a brain drain: some of the best, most creative gamemakers are focused on mobile and social games because those platforms are more developer-friendly. And the ones who remain focused on console games can't be as creative as they'd like."

The answer is to open up the system. "It's time we brought back innovation, experimentation, and creativity to the big screen. Let's make the games less expensive to make, and less expensive to buy. With all our technological advancements, shouldn't costs be going down? Gaming could be cheaper!"

Several prominent game designers sounded off on what they thought about the idea. "This has the potential to be the game developer's console. It's about time!" exclaimed Brian Fargo, of Interplay and inXile fame and creator of Hunted: The Demon's Forge.

"I'm excited for OUYA! I am a firm believer that there is always room to challenge the status quo," said Jenova Chen, founder of thatgamecompany and designer of Flower and Journey.

Even a spokesman from Notch's Mojang sounded off on possibly bringing Minecraft to the Ouya. "If OUYA delivers on the promise of being the first true open gaming platform that gives indie developers access to the living room gaming market, yes that is a great idea. We will follow the development of OUYA and see how it resonates with gamers. I could see all current Mojang games go on the platform if there's a demand for it."

From the images provided, the Ouya console does indeed look beautiful, clearly trying to ape one of its biggest competitors. "We designed the controller to be a love letter to console gaming. It has everything you've learned to love: fast buttons, triggers, laser-precise analog sticks, a D-Pad - and we've added a touchpad for any games making the trek from mobile or tablet to the TV.

"We call it 'the Stradivarius of controllers,' and we hope developers will be inspired to take gameplay to a new level with it," the campaign said.

The whole concept is certainly appealing. A $99 box with a potentially limitless library of free to play games would shake up the balance of power in the games industry away from the executives at EA, Activision, Sony, Apple, and Microsoft and puts in the keyboards of the people actually making games. The business model depends on support from paid game upgrades and possible microstransactions, but the open source attitude will hopefully open up console game development to a huge number of burgeoning game designers to directly bring titles to an even larger number of game consumers.

I'm not sure if I'm the target audience for this kind of thing, but I applaud the attempt to change the current paradigm. I'll be watching what happens with the Ouya closely.

And for those of you wondering, it's officially pronounced Ooo-Yuh.

Source: Kickstarter

Permalink

An Open Source platform?
Time to Hack the planet! I mean, get out my wallet.
<.<
>.>

This is an awesome idea. Sure it might not get the huge budget AAA titles but it has the potential to produce some really great things. I hope the kickstarter takes off for these guys even further than it already has. The more funding the better.

Fuck, I had an idea like that a couple of years ago, except it included a LBP style user-friendly creation engine. I should just start patenting and copyrighting everything I think from now on ™

It's a great idea, especially as a fixed target for Android game developers. Game development on Android is a nightmare because of all the different OS versions, device capabilities, form factors and so on that exist, especially when compared to the fixed and stable characteristics of iOS devices. I've seen a lot of developers just give up developing games for Android because of this.

With a fixed platform, it gets much easier, if it's well received in the market. The hardware is a bit on the weak side when comparing with current-gen consoles, but I don't think this is a big problem. Good games can be made with it.

Secret world leader (shhh):
Fuck, I had an idea like that a couple of years ago, except it included a LBP style user-friendly creation engine. I should just start patenting and copyrighting everything I think from now on ™

Considering the console is open source and hackable, you can still develop a LBP-style creation engine for it :)

This is great news for our industry. It harkens back to the Commodore 64 (et al) days that allowed anybody with the desire to do so to create things for a very low cost of entry.

I hope this does very well.

Oh, and an evil part of me hopes that the debugging tools are utter crap. Nothing turns you into a better programmer than having to debug your black-screen-of-death by only being able to change the border color.

LOL... ah yes... those were the days! Separated the men from the boys when it came to debugging. LOL.

I sure hope that the games aren't open source or this is going to be the biggest bomb ever.

If the free-to-play is implemented in all of the games this could do really well. I wonder how much each console will cost them and thus how they can support making them but hopefully they have a plan worked out (or this is going to quickly bomb).

tautologico:

Secret world leader (shhh):
Fuck, I had an idea like that a couple of years ago, except it included a LBP style user-friendly creation engine. I should just start patenting and copyrighting everything I think from now on ™

Considering the console is open source and hackable, you can still develop a LBP-style creation engine for it :)

See, that's what makes it brilliant.

I can finally play Canabalt on my TV? With surround sound Danny B?

image

And it's almost at 700k already. This thing will make millions.

Considering that the Android market already has titles like GTA 3 running on it, I don't think its a stretch to think they could release near AAA titles on this device. I would be getting the chequebook out to make a donation to this, but I can't afford $99 at the moment, and the lower rewards don't interest me, and its not like this thing is in danger of not meeting the goal.

I think I'll be buying one of these when they are released.

Twilight_guy:
I sure hope that the games aren't open source or this is going to be the biggest bomb ever.

If the free-to-play is implemented in all of the games this could do really well. I wonder how much each console will cost them and thus how they can support making them but hopefully they have a plan worked out (or this is going to quickly bomb).

I really thought this as well, and it still is a worry, but I'm pretty sure that they've said that you can still sell games for money as long as there is a free counter part/demo/whatever

I really wouldn't mind seeing this in action. I
ll be holding off on excitement, though.

EDIT- Double posted by accident, please disregard.

Twilight_guy:
I sure hope that the games aren't open source or this is going to be the biggest bomb ever.

If the free-to-play is implemented in all of the games this could do really well. I wonder how much each console will cost them and thus how they can support making them but hopefully they have a plan worked out (or this is going to quickly bomb).

Well looking at the system specs, it can't be that much. The components are pretty similar to recent Android phones, maybe with a little more oomph. A gig of ram costs like $15 dollars, flash memory cost is negligible at this point. They recently released that PC thing that was like $30 dollars or something. Add into the equation that they will pay wholesale prices, I imagine that the $99 price tag won't be too far removed from the actual unit cost to them.

DiamanteGeeza:
Oh, and an evil part of me hopes that the debugging tools are utter crap. Nothing turns you into a better programmer than having to debug your black-screen-of-death by only being able to change the border color.

LOL... ah yes... those were the days! Separated the men from the boys when it came to debugging. LOL.

Heh. You don't have to tell me about it. I remember writing Z80 assembly and just kind of having to hope it would work or guess what was wrong when it didn't.

Good deal. I'm intrigued but still on edge, I'll have to look up more information before I decide.

They are selling a console like every second, only 700 (of 5k) left at the time of this writing (the 99 dollar pledge reward)

Uhhh, this is odd too me. Can he really just use the Android operating system like that? Isn't all of this money going to go to Apple? If it doesn't, is he going to get sued before these ever see the light of day? I'm just curious, this doesn't seem like something that.. can happen to me. :\

Tradjus:
Uhhh, this is odd too me. Can he really just use the Android operating system like that? Isn't all of this money going to go to Apple? If it doesn't, is he going to get sued before these ever see the light of day? I'm just curious, this doesn't seem like something that.. can happen to me. :\

Android is an open source OS first created by Google. Apple ain't getting any of that.

Greg

I just pledged $130. Better be as awesome as I think it will be!

Wait, they are asking for only 1 mil to develop a console? One with a full controller and touch pad? And which will go for 99$, which is the cost of a 7 year old brick mobile phone? Uhh, yeah, no. This is either a scam, or the thing will be made of paper.

Ah, I see so the controller has a built in touch pad. Well that answers my question about how they will port over smart phone games.

Carnagath:
Wait, they are asking for only 1 mil to develop a console? One with a full controller and touch pad? And which will go for 99$, which is the cost of a 7 year old brick mobile phone? Uhh, yeah, no. This is either a scam, or the thing will be made of paper.

The hardware is already developed and they have a working prototype. The money is for large-scale production, regulatory approval, creating SDKs and so on. The low cost is possible with their hardware, especially because it's an off-the-shelf SoC and the system itself does not have a screen.

I don't think it's a scam, at all. It will not have hardware as powerful as the xbox360 or PS3 (probably better than the Wii though), but it will be able to run a lot of good games.

As a future developer, this has me jumping up and down in excitement, if I weren't living off Ramen noodles at this point, I'd pledge as much as I could.

tautologico:
I don't think it's a scam, at all. It will not have hardware as powerful as the xbox360 or PS3 (probably better than the Wii though), but it will be able to run a lot of good games.

I'd love to see a comparison, a Tegra 3 and 3Gb RAM can't be far off current console specs, and tablets run at not far 720p+ anyway.

In case anyone's interested, check out Shadowgun, or hell even Infinity Blade on iOS, they run on significantly inferior hardware to this and still look great.

It just remains to be seen whether the ecosystem will develop sufficiently, the last gaming focussed Android didn't do all that well.

Poor Xperia Play :(

But will it blend?

I'm sorry.

Certainly looks interesting, but I don't think I want to put money into it, seeing as I'm not 100% sure of exactly how it could work.

Something to look out for in the future.

tautologico:

Carnagath:
Wait, they are asking for only 1 mil to develop a console? One with a full controller and touch pad? And which will go for 99$, which is the cost of a 7 year old brick mobile phone? Uhh, yeah, no. This is either a scam, or the thing will be made of paper.

The hardware is already developed and they have a working prototype. The money is for large-scale production, regulatory approval, creating SDKs and so on. The low cost is possible with their hardware, especially because it's an off-the-shelf SoC and the system itself does not have a screen.

I don't think it's a scam, at all. It will not have hardware as powerful as the xbox360 or PS3 (probably better than the Wii though), but it will be able to run a lot of good games.

If what you are saying is true, then this is nothing more than an advertisement, they are using Kickstarter to make headlines. Because if the hardware is already developed and they have a working prototype, it means that they have already spent at LEAST 100 times more money than they are now asking for (and that's a very conservative estimate), so I can't really believe that the whole project is dependent on one more million. I don't mind that, that's fine, it's actually a pretty clever way to advertise, but still the cost of the console seems way too low for it to be any good. Nothing costs 99$. I really can't think of anything. Oh wait, there's the PS2, a 12 year old system that is now on the border of retro-land. That costs 99$. I don't get it.

Carnagath:

Oh wait, there's the PS2, a 12 year old system that is now on the border of retro-land. That costs 99$. I don't get it.

This is small-time developers we're talking about, Retro is really all they can do

OT: I still say this seems like a Flash Game website that you need a $99 box to access.

Refreshed the link and it's already at 910k. It'll probably hit the mark within the hour.

EDIT: I'm psychic, it hit the mark at 5 exactly.

If the games are of the same(see better) quality than what we expect out of AAA console games, this would be awesome for the European gamers-where retail games are so expensive...

Only 30k left till it gets funded. Should happen within the hour.

Carnagath:

tautologico:

Carnagath:
Wait, they are asking for only 1 mil to develop a console? One with a full controller and touch pad? And which will go for 99$, which is the cost of a 7 year old brick mobile phone? Uhh, yeah, no. This is either a scam, or the thing will be made of paper.

The hardware is already developed and they have a working prototype. The money is for large-scale production, regulatory approval, creating SDKs and so on. The low cost is possible with their hardware, especially because it's an off-the-shelf SoC and the system itself does not have a screen.

I don't think it's a scam, at all. It will not have hardware as powerful as the xbox360 or PS3 (probably better than the Wii though), but it will be able to run a lot of good games.

If what you are saying is true, then this is nothing more than an advertisement, they are using Kickstarter to make headlines. Because if the hardware is already developed and they have a working prototype, it means that they have already spent at LEAST 100 times more money than they are now asking for (and that's a very conservative estimate), so I can't really believe that the whole project is dependent on one more million. I don't mind that, that's fine, it's actually a pretty clever way to advertise, but still the cost of the console seems way too low for it to be any good. Nothing costs 99$. I really can't think of anything. Oh wait, there's the PS2, a 12 year old system that is now on the border of retro-land. That costs 99$. I don't get it.

A 100 times? No, it's not that expensive to design hardware using off-the-shelf components. This is not a console maker that needs to design hardware using custom parts so that it'll be hard to copy, it's a simple design for a circuit board using well-known parts. It does not cost a hundred million dollars. I'm an electronic engineer and even though circuit design is not my area of work or expertise, I'd certainly be willing to design a circuit board with off-the-shelf components if someone wanted to pay me even 10 million dollars for it :) Easier money I'd ever make.

Regarding the power of the hardware, take a look at the capabilities of the SoC they're using, it's a Tegra3 from nvidia (integrated CPU+GPU), a chip designed for mobile devices:

There are chinese tablet designs using the Tegra3 selling for less than $299, but this includes an expensive touch screen, 3G and other stuff. $99 is believable for a simpler design.

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