Amidst the release of Microsoft and Sony’s next-gen home consoles, little mainstream attention was given to the Ouya. The Android-fuelled console finally hit the shelves recently after months of fundraising via Kickstarter.
However, this understated piece of hardware faced some harsh criticism upon its launch. Firstly, the Ouya came under fire for its lack of original game titles. With very few exclusive games to its name, the Ouya’s library has left gamers disappointed. Many games announced for the console, such as The Walking Dead, are already available on other platforms, such as iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. Additionally, despite the fact that the device is Android-powered, users are unable to access stock Android games without resorting to hacking.
Other complaints included the poorly constructed controller that comes with the console upon purchase. The design has received some praise, thanks to its attractive style and analog sticks, but its precision is lacking. Although probably a move by the Ouya team to keep costs down, the fact that the controller is battery-powered and not rechargeable is another issue that reviewers have voiced.
The Ouya is a decently powered device, featuring a NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor, 1GB of LPDDR2 RAM and 8GB of on-board flash storage. It also has an attractive price tag, retailing at just $99. But it’s limited capabilities has left many asking whether there was any need for an Android console in the first place.
With mobile gaming continuing to boom, offering players access to casual and in-depth apps, as well as online sites such as Royal Vegas Casino, creator and CEO Julie Uhrman identified a potential gap in the home console market. But many smartphones and tablets deliver impressive graphical fidelity and processing speeds, and some high-end models are even able to connect to TVs via a mini-HDMI or other A/V port. Many Android players will already own a smartphone or tablet, making the need to shell out for this new home console seem redundant.
Urhman has addressed some of these issues already, taking to the stage at the XOXO festival in Portland to say: “We’ve done a lot of things wrong, and make a lot of mistakes. But I think one thing that’s unique about us is that we’re gonna continue to make them.
“We’re young, we’re scrappy, we’re moving fast. We’re building this product out in the open with you. We got our start with you, we get better every day because we listen to you, and some things are going to resonate and some things aren’t.”
The Ouya creator has also announced that the console will receive a comprehensive user interface redesign later this month. This updated interface will make it easier for users to discover and access new games.
Along with a greater focus on game cover art displays, the Ouya update will also introduce support for USB storage devices. Users will be able to download and queue games from the online platform and will receive custom recommendations, which will be delivered through a modified system menu.
Ouya has yet to confirm an official date for the console update.