Ooh yeah

Android-powered Ouya games console released to public

Today sees the release of the Ouya, the first Android-powered games console. Having raised over $8m on Kickstarter last year, initial backers will receive their devices this week ahead of a full retail release in June.

Unlike traditional consoles, which still mostly rely on expensive boxed games, the Ouya takes its cues from smartphone gaming trends. All games are distributed by a single Ouya game store, are “free-to-try” and can be developed using the free SDK included with every console.

This democratic approach may be the norm on Apple’s App Store and Google Play, but on existing consoles game development is an incredibly costly and bureaucratic process, with indie developers frequently segregated from big-name publishers.

The hardware includes a Tegra3 quad-core processor and 1GB RAM - more than enough to handle the majority of today’s Android games - running a customised version of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Games can be developed both in Java (as a regular Android app) or using the Unity engine, which supports Boo, C# and JavaScript.

Ouya the company was last month joined by Kellee Santiago, co-founder of thatgamecompany, to head up developer relations. Her involvement in some of the past few years’ most critically-acclaimed indie games, including Flower, should add provide the fledgling console with some extra credibility.

Ouya isn’t the only Android-powered, crowd-funded games console on its way to market. Game Stick (pictured above) raised $650,000 on Kickstarter and is set to retail for $79, also at the end of June. The console itself is around the size of a USB thumb drive and tucks away neatly into the controller.

It remains to be seen if either console will be able to steal the limelight from the PlayStation 4 and the successor to the XBox 360, likely to be released at the end of the year. However, pre-orders for the Ouya are already being accepted by high street retailers such as GameStop in the US and GAME in Britain.

Elliot Bentley

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