A new level

Android-based Ouya console nears release

Elliot Bentley
ouya-controller.11

March will see the release of the first ever games console able to run games written entirely in Java.

March will see the
release of the first ever Android games console – the first able to
run games written entirely in Java.

While powered by Android, the Ouya plugs into TV sets and features an
Xbox-like controller in an attempt to open up the traditionally
closed market, which mostly use C/C++ and are expensive to develop
for.

After a wildly successful Kickstarter last year – raising over
$8.5m and an initial 46,000 pre-orders – the console should go on
general sale next month for $99. It runs a heavily customised
version of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean powered by a Tegra3 quad-core
processor and 1GB RAM – identical to the Nexus 7 tablet
and more powerful than
the Xbox 360
(Editor’s note: Eurogamer has
a good comparison
).

The Ouya console.

Ouya is far from the first Android-powered set-top device, but
it’s the first to be marketed as a mainstream games console, with
considerably industry support and a dedicated controller, recently updated to
be “as honed, fast and precise as possible”.

However, it takes most of its cues from mobile platforms, rather
than traditional game consoles: it features an open-source SDK, a
“game store” said to be very similar to the Android marketplace and
the option to root the console without voiding its warranty. More
controversially, every game must include a free aspect, such as a
demo (or entire ‘free-to-play’ model).

The SDK is available
now
and should be compatible with existing Android emulators
and tablets. As well as Java, the Ouya can also run games developed
using the Unity engine, which
supports Boo, C# and JavaScript.

The only question now is how well the Ouya will sell: can it crack
the mainstream console market, or be stuck as a niche enthusiast
device?

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