Today is a big day for OUYA, the Kickstarter-backed, Android-based game console. The company is announcing that its $99 console will be available on June 4 (the news leaked a little early), and it’s also holding a big unveiling party in San Francisco tonight.
We actually met with founder and CEO Julie Uhrman yesterday, and she gave us a quick peek at the final hardware and at the actual interface. My main impression of the (Yves Behar-designed) hardware: Despite the low price point, it looks great. My main impression of the interface: OUYA really is trying to make it as easy-to-use as possible. That simplicity is important because OUYA isn’t just aiming for hardcore gamers. It’s also trying to create a console for a broader audience and to offer a more diverse set of games.
“We’ve really opened up the last closed platform, which is the television,” Uhrman said.
One of the most impressive things is the fact that OUYA was just an idea nine months ago. I asked Uhrman how close the product is to her initial idea, and she said, “Surprisingly, it’s very close. We knew what we wanted to do.”
Of course, the key to a great game platform is great games. There are more than 8,000 developers who have signed up to create OUYA games, including Square Enix, Inc., Double Fine Productions, Tripwire Interactive, Vlambeer, Phil Fish’s Polytron Corporation, and Kim Swift’s Airtight Games. You’ll get a few glimpses of the games in the video — Uhrman said the one she’s addicted to right now is Stalagfight, which is also showcasing a new monetization model, where gamers just donate however much they think the game is worth. (OUYA games have to have a free-to-play option, but other than that monetization is up to the publisher or developer.)
Uhrman also confirmed that the company plans to release an OUYA 2 next year. She said OUYA will follow a release cycle that’s closer to that of mobile phones than game consoles, but without adding a bunch of expensive hardware that isn’t necessary for the current set of games: “We’ll have a tempered, thoughtful release cycle.”