3 min read

Ouya: One Developer's Perspective

Be skeptical of Ouya, but not because of a lack of games.

The Ouya has been and will continue to be a fascinating phenomenon in the games industry. There's a healthy amount of skepticism surrounding it, with Penny Arcade Report being the latest to jump on the "too good to be true" bandwagon.

Yet from my perspective, if you're going to be skeptical of the device for a reason, you should focus on Ouya's ability to deliver what's been promised. I would advise against skepticism of there being good software on it, assuming it does make it into production. Here are two major reasons why:

1) Pent-Up Developer Demand

Want to develop a TV-based downloadable console game today? Here are your choices: PSN, XBLA, XBLIG, and WiiWare.

PSN and XBLA are two sides of the same coin, with PSN being a little more welcoming yet not as successful on the high end. But getting onto either one is a significant endeavor. WiiWare has some barriers to entry as well, but has so little attention and potential for success that it's not worth considering. XBLIG has very low barriers to entry, but still requires XNA, pricing/promotion flexibility is quite limited, and has many other significant downsides (can't play offline, reputation is generally bad, no achievements or leaderboards, treated as third-class citizens, and ratings matter to sales but are easily manipulated).

If you compare current console options to the major mobile markets (Apple, Google, etc), there is no comparison. Releasing a game is not a significant obstacle and there are hundreds of development options while doing so.

Ouya is providing mobile-like releasability on a console for the first time, and it will also provide a level playing field. Granted it won't have a massive install base, but that hasn't stopped Windows Phone 7 from amassing 100,000 apps.

2) Current Android Software != Ouya's Potential Software

I'll very likely port my games to Ouya, even though they may never be on another Android device. Why? Because it will be very easy to do, and my games (Super Crossfire, Inferno+, Ballistic, and Fireball, to be specific) will look and play great on it.

It will be easy because almost all the work is already done. All the games are in Unity, all the games have been made to look great on a new iPad (similar power/resolution overall to the Ouya), and they all control best with a dual analog control pad (which I've already done support for in the PC versions). It's hard to think of how the console could be a better fit for my games and current situation, aside from maybe having more graphical power.

I'm sure I'm not the only Unity- or Unreal-based developer who has stayed away from Android-based devices, because developing for them is such a pain due to so many different target resolutions and device capabilities. The Ouya solves the multiple device/resolution problem and adds a controller.

And for most types of games, a good dual analog controller is the best way to control a game played on a large-screen TV.

The Open Console Future

There's always the chance Ouya never makes it into production. But some day, a console with mobile-like releasability, easy production paths, and a level playing field will exist, and I look forward to it. You should too!

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