OUYA Gets Its Official Retail Release, But The $99 Game Console Still Hasn’t Reached Every Early Backer

The Android-powered OUYA gaming console is celebrating its official first day of general retail availability today, a major milestone to be sure for the Kickstarter-funded piece of hardware. Many thought it would never make it this far, and that it would be vaporware before anyone actually got a chance to go and purchase one, but founder Julie Uhrman and her team have made good on making sure it hit store shelves in the U.S., U.K. and Canada, listed right alongside the marquee consoles by Sony, Xbox and Nintendo.

The $99 device offers over 170 games, all of which must have some kind of free-to-try component, along with media apps like Plex and TuneIn. OUYA also touts its large committed developer base, which has over 17,000 studios and game creators signed on to deliver content for the console, including Double Fine Productions. The console ships with one controller, and you can add another for $49.99. As of this writing, the launch seems to be going decently well, as Amazon.com is already showing the console as out of stock.

So far, OUYA hasn’t received the best of early reviews. Most have found its user experience lacking, and the pre-release version was definitely a “beta” release. Virtually everyone who got their hands on a backer edition expressed hope that the console would receive more polish, along with hardware fixes when it actually shipped. And now that it has, critics are going to go back to the well for a second drink, in the hopes that the OUYA team has made some considerable advances in the ensuing two month period.

Yet not all backers could even form an early opinion about the console. OUYA employed a staggered shipping strategy to reach all of its backers, with a timeline that was supposed to ensure everyone got a console before they become generally available. OUYA’s Uhrman sent out an update to backers this morning apologizing for not getting the console in backer hands before the public release, and shifting blame to their distribution partner, to DHL, and to backers with located internationally.

Delays for backer reward shipments on Kickstarter are nothing new, but it is very rare to see a product hit general market availability before getting out to the project’s first supporters. OUYA appears to be stumbling out of the gate in more ways than one, but at least now the product is out there in non-beta form, and ready to prove itself as a real consumer product, or, alternatively, to fail in the court of public opinion.