Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Sony’s PlayStation 3, Nintendo’s Wii—These are not the only home video game consoles out there. Don’t even count crossover machines like video game equipped set top boxes like Roku’s devices or Apple TV. There are weird machines hitting the world market everyday. Just look at the Lenovo-backed Kinect imitator Eedoo CT510 that came out in China a couple of months back. Weird little oddities like that are also coming out looking to snatch away a little corner of the industry for itself.
Not all weird little game consoles have the all-star industry support that the Google Android-console Ouya does.
A new posting for the comapny appeared at startup listing platform Angel List. The company plans to make what it calls an “open and inexpensive” Android game console named Ouya. The goal is to eventually ship both a game development version of the device and the consumer version for $99. All games will be free-to-play on Ouya, and its creators say it is “built to be hacked,” meaning developers are encouraged to take advantage of the system in every way, to the point of making their own peripherals for games.
Who are those creators? Ouya distinguishes itself even in a conceptual state thanks to the people backing it. Julie Uhrman heads the startup. She recently spent brief stints as the vice president of digital distribution with IGN and GameFly, but has roots in the industry that began when she was publishing manager at Vivendi Universal games a decade ago.
Yves Behar, COO of headset makers Jawbone, designed the device as pictured above. In the Angel List posting, Behar says, “I believe in disruptive companies and products that reshape industries. Ouya is an open game console and platform, that allows people to build, play, and share on the TV the games they are passionate about.”
Other industry figures believe in Ouya’s mission as well. Former Microsoft Xbox chief Ed Fries is acting as an advisor on the Ouya project. Fries is a man who knows just how to break into the restrictive video game console business.
Startups open for business and disintegrate with such astounding frequency that it’s impossible to judge if Ouya will ever be anything more than a nifty design and an example of laudable business and creative philosophy. The hurdles before it—from raising developer and consumer interest to actual production—are innumerable. Especially with Fries involved though, Ouya is a device to keep your eye on.