Yearly releases of flagship hardware are a staple of the smartphone world - in fact, we're generally pretty pleased if twelve whole months can pass before we get a "+" or "HD" slapped onto our formerly cutting-edge phone. But in the console world, it's a different story, with at least five years between major releases being the norm. Android-powered gaming console OUYA intends to take the mobile approach, according to Joystiq. OUYA CEO Julie Uhrman had this to say:

As it relates to iterating the console and refreshes, our strategy is very much similar to the mobile strategy. There will be a new Ouya every year... There will be an Ouya 2 and an Ouya 3. We'll take advantage of faster, better processors, take advantage of prices falling.

Traditional consoles sell at a loss for their first few years, making money back on software. Most aren't profitable on the hardware side until the latter half of their retail runs. But since OUYA isn't much more than a pre-fabricated system on a chip with a nice case and a bit of custom Android software, it's possible that the independent console will be profitable from the get go. OUYA is scheduled to release to pre-orders this summer, and hit retailers like Best Buy, Amazon and Target at the same $99 price point.


So, yearly releases of new hardware are certainly possible. With the speed of mobile hardware development, it makes sense - after all, the Tegra 3-powered OUYA will probably be at least a generation behind when it launches. On the other hand, console gamers are quite used to the five -year cycle, and expect a little more shelf life from their gaming hardware. Even smartphone owners (in the US at least) are acclimated to a two-year upgrade cycle. Will OUYA's low price be enough to justify an annual upgrade to play the latest and greatest games?

Like standard Android phones, purchases made on OUYA's app store will be tied to users' accounts, not hardware. And Uhrman claims that all new hardware will be backwards compatible. A console upgraded every year is an interesting and certainly disruptive idea, but the company will have to make it through their initial twelve months first. With new hardware expected from Microsoft and Sony, not to mention NVIDIA itself, that will be no easy task.

Source: Joystiq

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • http://twitter.com/HumbertoZero Humberto Hernandez

    So, why would i buy an Ouya when i have a high-end phone with HDMI and a xbox/Ps3 controller?

    • http://twitter.com/AthoraX athorax

      You wouldn't?

    • http://twitter.com/rhedgehog rhedgehog

      'Cos not everyone is a technically capable as you or I are, and just want a box they can plug into their TV and Internet and away they go.

    • kenjab

      As I understand it, Ouya games will be exclusive to that device. So certain games will only be available on Ouya. And Ouya games will be optimized to be used with the gamepad, while Google Play games are optimized for a touchscreen.

      • http://twitter.com/Jug6ernaut William

        According to their KickerStarter page there is ONE exclusive so far announced. $100 for one game? Cool beans yo!

        • Vandré Brunazo

          You can count on your fingers how many apps on the Play Store comes with gamepad support out of the box, today, and would work seamlessly with a controller without hacking with Sixaxis.

          The OUYA store will come with thousands of those. Hopefully, many of those will later come to the Play Store too.

          • http://twitter.com/Jug6ernaut William

            I assume you can read as well as you right so i'm not sure how you missed the key word in my post.


          • Vandré Brunazo

            You obviously didn't understand my point, I was trying to explain to you why that key word is irrelevant.

          • http://twitter.com/Jug6ernaut William

            Its in no way irrelevant. Games sell consoles. Sure you can strap on controls to a game thats mean for a 4.5" screen and make it run on an ouya connected to a 50" lcd. But you know what? they are going to look like crap. The android game library is already abysmal, porting them to a console they were not designed for will only make them worse.

            $100 + games/year for bad/mediocre experience
            $300 + games/5-8 years for an amazing experince

            Really not to hard of a choice. If the ouya does succeed it will be if it pushes itself as a XBMC device, but not for games.

          • Dancovich

            Except the console market is becoming more and more difficult to maintain. Developer studios are closing everyday and new ways to stop the used game market are all symptoms of the simple fact that console games are too expensive - and will get more expensive - because all consoles are sold at a huge loss.
            Maybe Ouya is not the answer, but the question still begs an answer: how will we keep a market alive where more than 70% of the cost of our product is spent with things that have nothing to do with the product?

          • http://twitter.com/Jug6ernaut William

            "70% of the cost of our product is spent with things that have nothing to do with the product?" What are you referring to?

  • http://twitter.com/uksceptic Martin

    I don't really understand the continuing market for something like this. Does anyone else think that the Ouya is just riding on the wave of novelty?

    Serious gamers are going to be interested in PC or the new consoles from Sony and Microsoft. Casual gamers will be happy with whatever they can get on their phone and aren't going to see the point in shelling out for a device that basically plays all the games their mobile can. Android enthusiasts are going to have their own HDMI/phone/tablet/controller set-up already if that's what they want.

    Its the hardware and the OS we are interested in, who cares about a fancy box and a bog standard controller? That hardware will be old tech before it hits the shops. At this rate they'll always be behind the game.

    I'm fully prepared for this comment to get pulled apart, in fact I want to be shown that I am wrong. Please tell me, what does this offer that I can't do on my phone?

    • Vandré Brunazo

      - "Serious" gamers are only interested in PC and new consoles because, today, the graphics are better on those. There's no technical reasons why Android games cannot catch up in graphics. ARM is catching up, and Android can run on x86 if they really wanted.

      - Casual gamers like playing games on better screens too. They don't, today, because there's no good, easy and simple way to do it. Current consoles suck for casual games, and current phones suck at seamlessly connecting to your TV.

      - Android enthusiasts are not going to have their own HDMI/controller set up, because, if you tried it today. There are almost no game that supports it well at all. It's a terrible experience. You're almost stuck with emulators only. Because developers, today, have very little reason to worry about controller and big screen support on Android. This will change with the OUYA.

      Look, everything in life has pros and cons. The OUYA sure have many disadvantages, mostly, a weak CPU. But, as a game developer, it costs *literally* dozens of thousands of dollars to upload my game to the Xbox, and that again to later update it for security fixes. And it takes months of bureaucracy with microsoft to do so. On Android I can update games instantly and for free. You cannot disagree that this isn't a *huge* advantage for the OUYA. Are the pros enough to make up for the cons? I personally believe so, and by a very long margin.

      • Yaktongue

        I use the sixaxis app with 2 PS3 controllers and hook up my Galaxy Nexus to my TV. You'd be surprised at how many games work with my controllers using little or no setup, not just emulators. It's actually pretty awesome. Why would I pay for a Ouya to do the exact same thing?

        • Patrick

          Where can I find more info on how to do this? Sounds awesome. Would I need to root my phone/tablet?

          • Vandré Brunazo

            > Where can I find more info on how to do this?

            Look up Sixaxis on the play store. They explain how to use it. You do have to root your phone, spend some time configuring it (you have to literally map each button for each app you use). Plus the previous poster is lying about compatibility, there are very very few games that works seamlessly with it.

          • Yaktongue

            What? How am I lying? Yes, you have to root your phone, but, in many instances, that just means you download an application to your computer, hook up your phone via USB, and run the program.

            Many games I've tried specifically support game pads don't require to to map out buttons (Bard's Tale, Jet Set Radio, etc.). Plus I said "little or no setup". I'd hardly say that a one-time set up of buttons for some apps (which would take 60 seconds a most) is a big deal. You'd have to do the same thing for apps that are not specifically set up for the Ouya.

        • http://www.modminecraft.com/ Nick Coad

          I have done this myself, and it's nowhere near as simple as it would be to just power on an Ouya. Not to mention a PS3 gamepad costs almost as much as the entire Ouya, and then you still have to purchase the Android device, on which not every game will even support the controllers anyway.

          I see what you're saying - that it's possible to play Android games with a controller - but don't pretend like it's at all comparable to what the Ouya is offering.

          • Yaktongue

            PS3 controllers are $40, less than half the price. Plus, I don't think anyone is arguing that the Ouya controller is as good. Also, you have the added benefit of being able to use the PS3 controller with any future phones you might have. The Ouya controller is limited to that device. As for "having to purchase an Android device" anyone who's thinking of purchasing an Ouya likely already have am Android phone.

      • http://twitter.com/uksceptic Martin

        I hadn't thought of it from the position of the developer. I see your point about the advantages of a system like this. However I still think that is true for android as a platform full stop. If the Ouya is a massive success then phone manufactures will just make connecting up to a TV easier thus making the Ouya 2/3/4 obsolete. There are already third party controllers available.

        It isn't just the graphics that make PC and console gaming much more impressive. Its the depth and scope. I haven't found an Android game yet that has given me more than a couple of hours of unique developing gameplay. Most are a one trick pony, fun but basic.

        • Vandré Brunazo

          > then phone manufactures will just make connecting up to a TV easier thus making the Ouya 2/3/4 obsolete

          How will they do that? You'd need an updatable device (to adapt to changing standards) connected to your tv's hdmi the whole time, that your phone would stream to, so you don't need to be plugging your phone the whole time.

          Oh btw, you know what's cool cheap set top box, perfectly compatible with android, that you could use to seamlessly connect your phone to your TV? The OUYA :)

        • Dancovich

          Even so the Ouya needs to happen, if only to create the demand for games that support gamepads.

          Maybe Ouya is just the beggining of an idea. Maybe what we really need is smartphones that can be easily connected to TVs, have apps to support that connectivity (XBMC comes to mind) and have games that natively support gamepads. But without Ouya we can't really test if this is really something worth exploring.

        • didibus

          Well, games are supposed to be made with Ouya as their target platform, not android. This means that technically, devs should release games with more depth and scope to the Ouya, but obviously with less polygon count then on more expensive consoles.

    • Cherokee4Life

      for me at least, I am ecstatic for this. I love playing games on my Transformer Tablet and my EVO LTE. And I love playing games on my 360 and WiiU but there are times when I wish they were combined.

      For example: Dead Trigger, I feel like there isn't enough screen real estate in the bottom corners that my fingers can reach on my tablet for all the things I need there. I would love to play Dead Trigger with a controller and better yet on my TV.

      While I'm playing my favorite Tower Defense, i get a new move with Words with Friends. I don't want to change devices to play 30 seconds of a different game, when I could do that from the same console I am already playing on.

      Disclaimer: I have no idea if those games are coming to OUYA.

      I completely understand this is not for everyone or maybe even not for a lot of people. But I think the major point here is that its not a BAD idea, and the fact that its coming to retail locations says a lot about the possibilities. It just expands the already cramped market of consoles. I don't think this will ever come close to making a dent in the 360 or PS4 or Wii, but its another option.

      Also, say a game on Android is $5 right. You are not sure if you want to pay $5 for it. BUT it is on OUYA, which means it HAS to have some sort of free trial with it. You can test it out on OUYA and see if you like it. Again this is a very very small amount but I think that's the idea, OUYA is doing a lot of little things that others are not.

      They are taking a huge Open-Source Fragmented OS, and completely keeping it that way but also having set rules they will not budge on and its has a lot of publicity.

      -has to be some what free, trial version or what have you

      -has to work with its controllers and what not

      Last Point: They will be releasing a new high powered version each year at the same lost cost. and it is MEANT to be taken apart and hacked.

      The way I think of OUYA is.. combine the following into one

      -TV Gaming Console
      -Open Source Android
      -Free games or trials
      -Enticing to Indie Games

      okay im done rambling

      • http://twitter.com/uksceptic Martin

        To PhineasJW and Cherokee

        You are both totally right but what you are talking about is a niche novelty product for android buffs. That was kind of my point in the first place.

    • PhineasJW

      It's open.

      It's hackable.

      It's not battery powered.

      And, it's connected to your TV all the time.

      So, aside from playing games...

      - It's essentially a $100 Tegra 3 1.6GHz quad-core Raspberry Pi
      - Someone will put Ubuntu/linux on it -- it's a computer.
      - XBMC will run out-of-the-box, which gives you a quad-core low power media streamer that will play any 1080P video off the internet or from your home collection.
      - XDA will hack it to do anything.


      • moelsen8

        don't forget controllers come standard!

        • SickoPsycho

          Actually, I believe, CONTROLLER comes standard. Think it's only shipping with 1.

          • moelsen8

            yes, just meant it has controllers. more than a phone or tablet can say.

      • Kenny O

        This is exactly why I backed it.

        For example. I'm sitting here waiting for my phone to charge so I can then plug it into my TV, then pair my PS3 controller to play Vice City. With the Ouya I'd already be playing right now.

    • Dancovich

      To me what they are really trying to do is create a new market, or at least "an old dead market".

      Hardcore gamers are something new. We (as I'm one of them) came from our childhood when the term "hardcore" was nonexistant and we played our Nintendos and Genesis inbetween play-outside-time and study-time. We didn't care about suberb graphics or state-of-the-art effects (or we cared, but out standards were low given the technology at the time).

      Nowadays the console business is a very difficult business. Only big companies manage to create consoles and stay competitive. Games are more and more expensive because consoles sell at a loss and games need to make up for this loss.

      So I think what OUYA is trying to do is emulate the mobile business to the console world. Mobile phones never sell at a loss. Mobile game developers don't need to purchase expensive developer kits to make their game and because of that games are much cheaper in mobile world.

      If Ouya suceeds by itself or by creating a market others will take advantage of, we may see a world where hardcore gamers who wants the best graphics will relly on PC (they are the best for this task anyway) and console gamers who want to play games on a TV without the hasle of installing and configuring a game will play on Ouya-like consoles.

    • didibus

      Note: This is going to be long, but if you doubt the Ouya, I think it might convince you otherwise. Obviously, let's not kid ourselves, the success of Ouya depends 99% on advertisement of the system to the mainstream and 1% on the game library. None the less, the following arguments might help it both market itself and have good games.

      First of all, I think Ouya has a place until Google decides to create a more rigid and standard game ecosystem. Unless Google comes out with a standard controller scheme, and a standard game store that has achievements, in game chat/voice chat, multiplayer servers, etc.

      Reasons are this: Current Android games do whatever they want! They decide if they will support a controller or not, if they do, they decide which controller to support, or what kind of button layout the controller needs to support, if it has rumbling, touch, a microphone on it or not, etc. Then they choose if they want to offer achievements or not, if they do, they can use their own system, or use a third party, etc. Then they decide if they want to offer multiplayer, if they do, they have to build a server infrastructure themselves, or use a third party. If they want chat or voice chat in game, they must do it all themselves, etc.

      Unless Google steps in, it will be so forever. This is what was happening to PC games. In such a system, only very simple, casual games with limited depth and scope can strive. This is why when the PC started having flash games, more people played those then they played real games, and people moved to consoles for that. Until Steam came along, basically enforcing a gaming ecosystem on the PC that everyone rallied around. Steam was not enough, Xbox also had to happen, with a standard controller scheme that was compatible with PC, which made it so games that are controller friendly became playable on the PC again, no more playing games with a Creative PC game pad. PC gaming is making a comeback because games target a standard game pad: Xbox 360 controller, and support a standard game ecosystem: Steam.

      Now comes Ouya, since Google isn't coming out with a game ecosystem and standard controller, the field is open for anyone to do so. Ouya might have the best chance of it right now. A 100$ box that every Mom will love to buy their little kids for Christmas, since it has so many of those cute cuddly games they play themselves on their phones. Then hardware hacker enthusiasts will get them, so will emulator lovers and streaming movie lovers. Already, you will have the Ouya controller in more household then any other Android controller ever. So next time a dev will want to support a controller, he will be way more inclined to support the Ouya controller (which Ouya will sell separate for 50$ and will make compatible with phones and tablets also).

      Now there are a lot of people who still have shitty phones, dumb phones or low end smartphones with way worst CPU and GPU then the Ouya will have. Most of those phones can't even output to a tv, and will never managed to output a nice looking game to 1080p. And do you really want to hook up your phone to a TV with an HDMI? I sure don't, my cellphone is my home phone, I want it in my pocket at all times. I even use it when I shit. If I have to plug/unplug my phone to my TV every time I get a call or take a shit, or leave the house/get back, I will probably end up not hooking up my phone to my TV at all. Not counting how enraged I'll be when my girlfriend will be using my phone to play on our TV, or for a family, it will be your sister, your little brother, your Dad, etc. Miracast is years away from widespread availability, so that can't come to the rescue. So for all those people too cheap or poor to buy a high end smartphone, and for all the people who do not live alone, or don't like hooking / unhooking their phone to their TV many times a day, and who want their phone to be with them at all times, a 100$ Ouya is very attractive.

      Do you remember how cheap mobile games are? Cheapness, another luring factor to Steam, that Ouya will share. Now you start having more and more games made with Ouya controller in mind, you start porting your Android games that support the Ouya controller to the Ouya game ecosystem (achievements, multiplayer, demos, chat, voice chat), and slowly you start to realize that your games are being made for the Ouya universe. That's when you think, well, time to make longer games, more engaging games, games designed for Ouya first, Android second. That's when Console type games start coming out to the Ouya. Now you get 50hr + RPGs, fast paced multiplyer FPS games, long engaging platforms, action games that require too much dexterity to ever be played on a touch screen, game pad is a must, etc. And when you thought Ouya could not get any better....

      Google buys Ouya! First thing they do is package the Ouya game ecosystem (accounts, game saves, achievements, multiplayer API and servers, chat and voice chat services, etc.) into an APK that comes pre-loaded on the OS, or can be downloaded from the play store. Second thing they do is link your Ouya account to your Google account. Then they integrate G+ all over Ouya. Now we have a rich game library which mixes console type games, with mobile type games, all compatible for use with the omnipresent Ouya controller, that you can play on your phone, tablet, or Ouya console system. Start a game on the bus, finish on your couch. Even if Google don't buy it, Ouya themselves might want to do this. The Ouya console remains the common denominator in terms of hardware specs that games need to target, and voila!

      Ouya can be all that, and to me, that is a beautiful game eco-system. Oh, and we forgot, it's free for devs to develop for.

      To connect it all back, to me, Ouya is a reverse Steam. Neither Ouya nor Steam is what I have described here yet, but both could be. Ouya will have a "console" that is nothing more then an Android in a box with yearly hardware specs refresh for games to target and standardize around. And Steam is a game eco-system free to develop on that gives devs access to achievements, game saves, game store, etc. Steam have mentioned maybe coming out with a Steam box, which I hope will be a "PC in a box" with yearly hardware specs refresh for devs to target and standardize around. Since the Ouya box will not be sold at a loss, they have nothing to lose from people using their phone instead of the Ouya box, as long as they use the Ouya ecosystem, for which they'll get a cut on game sales, but as Steam is proving, people want the box to go along with it.

      If you've read all this, you win a medal!

      • http://twitter.com/uksceptic Martin


        Just kidding.

        I admire your vision but I think you are getting well ahead of where the Ouya platform is and it's scope. There is a temptation amongst a community like Android fans etc to assume that your impact/relevance is greater than it is. To assume that the rest of the population have the same knowledge about these products and systems that you do.

        Most people I talk to about their phones don't know that the name of their OS is Jelly Bean or ICS or whatever and even fewer will have heard of Ouya let alone consider it a present to stick round the Christmas tree.

        Despite the protestations I still see this a niche product for indie game developers and players. I would be very surprised to see it have a significant impact in the larger console/gaming world.

        • didibus

          Haha, well I agree with you, this is my dream of what I would like the Ouya to become as a tech enthusiast. That's why I actually just think if Ouya advertises itself a lot, it will work, if it does not, it will fail. Hearing the news that you'll be able to buy it from so many places is a good start, but they need online ads, tv ads, etc.

    • Christopher Saylor

      I keep hearing this argument.

      This thing is a hundred friggin bucks.
      What else am I getting for 100 bucks these days?

      I just spent 400 after a case, shipping, taxes on my Nexus 4.
      I just spent 600 to build a new computer.
      I just spent 90 dollars on a metal wheel for my Chinchillas.
      I just spent $5.35 on this caramel machiatto in my hand. If I did that 18 times this year that's already $100

      Just because the top end of hardware has moved on doesn't mean the market is gone for the lower end hardware. Afterall I can still go buy an XboX 360 for $200, which is less powerful than this device.

      So apparently selling old hardware is already working for Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo up to this year, so why should it not work for Ouya?

  • 4e

    Lovely Little XBMC machine...

    • http://twitter.com/rohanXm Rohan Mathur

      Grab a Raspberry Pi and load up Raspbmc on it for $65 less than an Ouya. It runs perfectly, and I personally love mine.

      • PhineasJW

        Are you watching 1080P videos or 720P?

        From all reports, Raspberry doesn't have the horsepower to do high-bitrate 1080P, unfortunately.

        You can use this test file to try:
        1080P 10Mbps

        • http://twitter.com/rohanXm Rohan Mathur

          I've run Bluray rips on it before without issue, but they also may have been downscaled, I'm not sure to be honest. Everything I've thrown at it though, its been able to play without lag or any other issues.

      • Cherokee4Life

        very true, but OUYA can do more than the Rasberry Pi can, and I would say its worth the extra $35

        • http://twitter.com/rohanXm Rohan Mathur

          Indeed, I was assuming all the OP wanted was an XBMC machine. The Ouya is definitely worth the extra $65 to snag all the other abilities and power it has. Raspberry Pi is just fine for XBMC though IMO.

  • http://awseibert.net/ Aaron

    So... I can buy a $500 console, at release, every 5 years...

    Or I can buy a $100 (or less) console, at release, every 1 year.

    Seems pretty equal to me

    • http://twitter.com/Jug6ernaut William

      They games for each will hardly be equal...

      • http://awseibert.net/ Aaron

        True. Although, that should also reflect in the game price.

        Don't get me wrong, I'd buy a console every 5 years instead of a ouya every year - but I typically wait to upgrade until the prices drop and there's a healthy game library.

        • http://twitter.com/Jug6ernaut William

          Exactly. Most gamers are the same, they will buy a console when there is a game on it they want to play that they cant elsewhere. Idk if ouya can get to that point.

  • Wayne Randall

    Great, more electronic garbage to dispose of, just what we need. Thousands of these little boxes in our recycling centers, landfills and chucked into ditches when they are no longer viable pieces of hardware.
    Great idea. I've changed my mind about this new console.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bron84 Bronislav Shtrom

    not touching this with a twelve foot pole now. goodbye ouya

  • John Petersen

    This sounds fine to me. The old Ouya won't stop functioning, and since they all use the same platform, most new games will continue to work. Only top-end games that rely on newer graphics features would require new hardware, just like, er, every other Android device out there.

    So, it's an option. Want to upgrade every year? You can. Want to upgrade every 2 or 3 years? You can. Options are always better than no options. If anything, this should be an encouragement to those who are already demanding an Ouya with Tegra 4. Guess what? You're going to get it.

  • smeddy

    Actually this has made me re-think the device, as suddenly I'm just left thinking that I may as well just use my phone via HDMI out.

    • GraveUypo

      it's funny, i saw this news on a bunch of different android and game websites.
      the reactions on android websites were mostly positive, and on game websites they were massively negative.

      as a gamer i gave up on ouya the moment i heard. upgrading the hardware every year will destroy what allows developers to make the most of a console.

      if i ever get an ouya, it won't be for the gaming side of it. and probably not this first version either since tegra 3 is still in that "can barely run SOME full hd content" category (it can't keep up with videos from my go pro hero 2 for instance). though i can think of some other nice uses for such a cheap, small and relatively powerful machine.

  • Asphyx

    Two years ago they had a shot at some market traction while the console makers were sitting idle on the next gen...
    Now Sony is prepared to release the nexgen playstation which means MS and Nintendo will follow suit and since they will create a big jump in the capabilities of those units this market will not be as huge as it could have been.
    With nvidia pushing the mobile capability they have a shot to catch up to those nextgen units but it will take two or three years.

  • Juan Carlos Contreras

    Ouya will update in hardware yearly, but what about the OS, it's something they have not mentioned. Will they provide OS updates to those who bought the early versions or will those early adopters be left behind.

    I understand that the Ouya is hackable and a tech savvy person can update the device (or to one's liking), but that is a few of us. Ouya is aiming this game console at the average consumer and the consumer would expect Ouya to provide yearly updates to be simple to update like on the Xbox 360.