“The question was, how do you get people excited about a new gaming system? And that’s what makes Ouya unique—anybody can build any game.” That was Julie Uhrman, founder and CEO of Ouya, the open-source gaming console built on Android, during her keynote yesterday afternoon. “It’s about enabling creators.” Designed by Yves Behar, Ouya was the Kickstarter Cinderella story of 2012, surpassing its goal of $950,000 in just hours. With the help of over 63,000 backers, Ouya raised nearly $8.6 million by its August deadline.
To say Ouya will redefine the landscape of gaming is not complete hyperbole. Essentially Uhrman is giving power back to indie developers through her gaming platform. The console, which will ship to Kickstarter backers at the end of the month and will be available for retail in June, merges the inventiveness of games available on tablets and smartphones with television.
Yet, for all of Uhrman’s claims about innovation, Ouya is actually a traditional approach in an ever-evolving industry. Ouya recreates the childhood experience of video game play amongst friends—hands cramped because you’ve been sitting in front of the television for hours battling foes on Mortal Kombat, volume on max. And for $99, it’s an affordable, if not revolutionary, alternative to high-priced gaming consoles.
The most telling part of Ouya’s success, however, was its support via Kickstarter. Sixty-three thousand backers is a startling statistic. It’s more statement than anything, and its massive success proves there is a demand for a new approach to gaming. And when the device ships to the public this summer it will do so to 110 countries worldwide.
Uhrman also noted that Ouya will provide streaming content, saying she was in talks with Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. And with nearly 7,000 developers on board, Uhrman is confident Ouya will succeed.
“I want to open up the world of TV gaming again,” she said. “Ouya says anybody with a great idea can do it. And now there is a path to it.”
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