Levi Picks On Ouya
Seriously, people- I think we should all get Ouya’s. My crystal ball is in the shop at the moment, so I can’t tell for certain whether this thing will be a success or not (whatever that means), but I can tell you that this box is easily worth a hundred bucks. Even if it only ever sells a a couple hundred thousand units, even if it fails to get third party support, and even if you end up disliking every single game you play on the dang thing, there are a handful of ways in which the cheap game console will still make itself useful in your living room. Games aside, let’s look at the five little bonuses you get when you buy an Ouya.
Chances are you’ve heard of XBMC and/or Plex, even if you don’t use one of the two programs for collecting your media and getting it to your ears and eyeballs. No matter what device your movies and music rest on, or what format those files are in, either of these free downloads allow you to collect it on your computer, tablet, or phone. Now, they’re both Ouya apps too and will let you pull media to the Android box from anywhere on your network or even right off flash drives and other USB storage, making the Ouya an awesome media center.
Backers have had their technically-capable hands on the thing for long enough to side-load the Google Play versions of both apps onto the console and have reported great performance, even though the official Ouya apps have not been released yet. Being able to pull down 1080 p video over a wireless connection and play it at nearly 60 frames per second without the box overheating or the fan sounding like a jet is impressive, especially when that power is in such a tiny, inexpensive package.
Speaking of streaming media, Twitch is coming to Ouya as well. With the recent burst of popularity in eSports and spectating thereof, lots of gamers are watching as much Street Fighter IV and Starcraft II as they’re playing. I mean, there’s channels featuring all kinds of gaming on Twitch, but let’s be honest- it’s about watching people compete. Personally, I prefer actually playing video games, but my obsession with Dota 2 has grown in such a way that I now appreciate the occasional pro level match. Now I’ll be able to watch from my couch the same way I do other sports.
This isn’t likely to be the most popular use of an Ouya, but it’s certainly handy to have the option available for streaming. Though it isn’t confirmed yet, Julie Uhrman has hinted that her console will be getting Netflix and Hulu apps as well, so it’s likely you’ll be able to take advantage of these services too. Optimizing the Android version of their apps wouldn’t be too difficult, so there’s no reason to think Ouya won’t become as well rounded as any other media box under the TV.
What if you aren’t really into watching, though? Well, if making things is more your speed, you’re still covered with Ouya. Only the first few boxes that went out had the opaque plastic that covers the developer version of the console, but literally every Ouya is a dev kit, allowing those who download the SDK to make and test their own games right from the start. There’s no fees or licenses needed, so anyone can create their own stuff with Unity or whatever else they can get to run on Android.
Opening the system up in this way is amazing for games. It could, and almost certainly will, flood the Ouya’s storefront with crap, but it also allows those who have unique ideas and talent but no people, experience, or money behind them to get a game out there on televisions everywhere. If you’ve been gaming as long as I have, chances are you have a few ideas floating around in your head that you just know would make a great game. Why not stop wishing someone else would make a game like that? Why not grab an Ouya and try making one yourself?
Okay, so you don’t want to make new games and maybe you aren’t even interested in playing new ones either. If you wax nostalgic over games gone by, you probably already know that Ouya is going to be a really good box for emulation on the cheap. Sure, emulation allows for people to play all kinds of homebrew stuff, but the real purpose (though not a strictly legal one) is to have a a way to play all that old stuff without keeping all the ancient machines out in the living room.
With its wireless controller and connection to the TV, Ouya would make for a much better way to play classic platformers and fighting games than the PC could ever hope to be. Of course, you would have to bend the law or ignore it entirely to be able to take full advantage of this feature, but it’s there, nonetheless. There are a handful of emulators already available in the Ouya app store, so it will be up to you to download ROMs of old games and transfer them to your console or not. I know you’ll make the right choice.
The last of the bonuses you get with your purchase of an Ouya is a big question mark. The system may be small, but the possibilities are huge. With it being an open and hackable platform, who knows what people will be doing with it in a few months or a year? Buying an Ouya is like a game show where you get four known prizes, plus whatever’s in the mystery box.
It’s not the super-charged next-gen machine or the big seller that will be under every tree come Christmas, but I bet you’ll find a use for Ouya, even if it in’t games, that will make it worth the cost. Dev kit, emulator, and streamer of everything from tunes to games. (Did I mention iHeartRadio and Onlive will run on this thing too?) For a hundred bucks, hey sure did pack a lot of promise into that tiny box.