Ouya microconsole to reach backers this month

March 1, 2013 | 18:26

Tags: #android #cloud-gaming #console-gaming #crowdfunding #crowdsourcing #project-shield #tegra #tegra-3

Companies: #kickstarter #nvidia #onlive #ouya

The team behind the Ouya, a compact ARM-based microconsole running Google's Android mobile operating system, has announced that the device will begin shipping to backers by the end of the month.

The Ouya console, which packs a mobile-centric Nvidia Tegra 3 low-power ARM chip and 1GB of RAM into a miniature casing designed to stream cloud-based games via troubled specialist OnLive as well as play locally-rendered casual gaming titles, launched on crowd-funding service Kickstarter with an eye-catching promise: an impressive games console for just $99. The low price and support of numerous industry luminaries who pledged ports and exclusives for the platform won it rapid support, smashing past its original $950,000 funding goal and finishing with a whopping $8.6 million in the bank - minus Kickstarter's commission, of course.

The timing of the Kickstarter launch was undeniably lucky: the project's page was filled with 'concept' imagery, showing artists' impressions of what the device, its controller and even the central user interface could look like were the team to receive enough funding. Since then, Kickstarter has banned product renders and other concept images, demanding that hardware projects be more open and honest by showing actual prototype hardware to prospective buyers.

The news early last month that the Ouya console would receive annual hardware updates in a reflection of the rapidly-changing smartphone and tablet markets, with which the device has considerably more in common than an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, shocked some - and none more so than those who had contributed to the project's success by pledging $99 or more to pre-order the device and had yet to receive any hardware for their hard-earned cash.

Worry not, the company has announced: the devices are on their way. In the 19th project update posted to Kickstarter late last night, the team behind the console promised that production is under way and shipping will begin on the 28th of March. Production volumes have not been confirmed, but the team promises that 'tens of thousands' of its pre-order customers will get their devices by the end of the month, while a planned retail launch in June that will see the console hit bricks-and-mortar shop shelves is still on-track.

The team also offered a few more details about the games early adopters can expect, including a deal with Portal and Left 4 Dead co-creator Kim Swift to create an Ouya-exclusive title, a port of first-person puzzle shooter The Ball from Tripwire Interactive, and action-RGP ChronoBlade also making an appearance in the near future.

Whether Ouya's console can succeed against smartphones and tablets with similar specifications - not to mention Nvidia's upcoming Android-powered Shield hand-held - once the hype of its crowd-funded production has died away, however, remains to be seen.
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