Ouya console to get annual successors

February 7, 2013 | 11:08

Tags: #android #cloud-gaming #console #console-gaming #crowdfunding #project-shield #tegra-3 #tegra-4

Companies: #kickstarter #onlive #ouya

Ouya, the cut-price Android-based games console that smashed records when it launched on the Kickstarter crowd-funding platform - raising a whopping $8.6 million from its original goal of $950,000 - will be the first in a regular series of devices, the company has revealed.

At its heart, the Ouya is an Android tablet minus the display: the compact box packs an Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor running at 1.6GHz with 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage and an HDMI port supporting 1080p HD video and 5.1 digital surround-sound outputs. 802.11/g/b/n Wi-Fi is included along with a wired Ethernet port, while a Bluetooth radio connects the wireless controller and a micro-USB port allows for development, debugging and side-loading of apps and games.

If that sounds a little weedy for a console, that doesn't appear to have stopped developers announcing their plans to support the device. Numerous companies have come forward with announcements that they will be launching games on the gadget, with Double Fine's latest title Reds using the Ouya as its exclusive console launch platform. Troubled cloud gaming company OnLive has also announced its support for the console via its game streaming technology - little surprise, given that OnLive already has an Android app that will need little tweaking before release.

When you're launching as a $99 console using the same kind of hardware you'd find in a high-end - or, given it's a last-generation Tegra 3 chip and just 1GB of RAM, mid-range - smartphone, you can't expect the five-year-plus lifecycles of the big boys, though. Even so, the company's proclamation that it's planning an annual release cycle is likely to come as something of a shock to those who have already parted with their cash for pre-orders of the first generation units.

In an interview with Engadget, company chief executive Julie Uhrman explained that Ouya would be following the same development cycle as the smartphone and tablet market, rather than that of rival consoles. 'There will be a new Ouya every year' Uhrman admitted. 'There will be an Ouya 2 and an Ouya 3.'

That the tablet-inspired device should be following a tablet-inspired development schedule shouldn't really come as a surprise, of course: when you're packing the very latest hardware into a £400 games console, you can afford to over-spec the device and have it last for years to come; when you're dealing with last-generation parts and a strict $99 retail price level, however, it's time to take a different tack.

Uhrman was also keen to point out that existing games will not be lost: a game purchased on an Ouya 1 will work fine on an Ouya 2, an Ouya 3 and so forth. Each game is linked to a user's account, much like titles purchased through Google Play - not supported by the Ouya, incidentally, in favour of its own bespoke marketplace - follow a user through multiple phone and tablet upgrades.

Initial indications are that the Ouya is proving popular with an impressive number of pre-orders, but how it will fare post-launch - and in the face of Nvidia's own Tegra 4-based Project Shield gaming system - remains to be seen.
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