The Ouya was announced yesterday. Announced, mind you, not released. It is heralded as a cheap, open source gaming console for the television. It used kickstarter to gauge interest in the project and within 24 hours they had doubled their initial funding goal making it the fastest rising kickstarter project ever.
This system will change how games are made, and it will change how media is treated on a tv.
There were immediate naysayers a couple hours after announcement. The system specs were not exactly anything amazing. The CPU will be little better than your smartphone. The storage is dismal. The games all have to be free (isn't free bad?). People just couldn't understand it.
But all of those points are actually in this system's favor. You see what console makers forgot about, in their pursuit for the biggest tech, was how to make games fun. When given limitations you can't even bother to focus on migs and megs of memories and just have to go back to fun. There has been a big surge of FUN games on the computer, in the form of flash games. Flash is a small form factor, no nonsense platform that makes you forgo 3d explosions in favor of slick gameplay. This Ouya gaming system will mean a return to focusing on games as games.
It's also targetting independent developers. The tagline is "Anyone can pick up this console and develop for it." It's also built on the android operating system which means that it already has an established developer base. Made a game for android phones? Why not make one for an android console? Being open source and android based might not mean much to the average consumer (although that brand name is picking up steam steadily) but it is a big deal to developers. Switching languages is hard, but if you can keep the same code and just switch controllers, that's huge.
Some people are confused by a console that doesn't strive for as many triangles as possible when it comes to graphics. But graphics don't make a game. In fact they have distracted the big developers for years now. The arms race for graphics started slowing around crysis and has pretty much stagnated since then. We don't need better graphics we need better games, and independent developers have been quietly honing their craft, just waiting for this moment.
The final nail is free to play. This word has become dirty recently. Some developers have abused it. They've created games where you can essentially pay to cheat, or you just can't ever win without paying, or the game is tedious and unfun without paying. But there have been big wins as well. Plenty of games have succeeded with demo versions, paid expansions, and paid silly extensions. But above and beyond the developers, making Ouya a free system will give the Ouya creators immunity in the lawsuit sector. The reason everyone else has had to play nice with big media is because they want their fingers in all the pots. But if Ouya can manage to stick to hardware, they're completely immune as a company. Let other companies worry about how they handle legality, we only charged for the hardware.
I don't think I can fully articulate how important this will be to the industry. The movie industry has stagnated so long now because they have put a hold on anyone who tried to horn in on the "cable" movie industry. They have tried to say that tv and internet are separate areas, and so that's why hulu has movies and tv shows that are "only available online". The Ouya has the potential to blow that out of the water by being completely user funded, by being completely open source, and by not charging admission. Everything is free, and it will free your tv from the shackles of the movie industry.
This has the potential to be the ultimate device. Hardware without shackles. And the game industry will flock to it, but so will other developers. I've seen a lot of naysayers asking where all these independent developers are. "Where are they hiding?" They are shackled to the big media companies, and this system will free them from those shackles.
The Ouya should have branded itself as the Independence, because that's what it will mean to developers. Three guys in a basement can now make something for a console. It's going to be amazing.