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Ouya Trying to Fool? Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo Shouldn't Worry About the New Kid


The console giants have company as the Ouya hits shelves.

The Ouya game console made its retail debut today and is available for purchase from Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY), GameStop Corp. (NYSE:GME), Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), and Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT). Or should I say, it was available?

While the $99.99 console can still be snagged from Target or Best Buy, the Ouya is out of stock at the two other retailers.

A shining example of the power of Kickstarter, the Ouya absolutely took off last summer, attracting over $8.5 million from 63,416 backers in less than a month on the crowd-funding site. Considering that the funding target set by Ouya CEO Julie Uhrman and her partners was $950,000, it's fair to say that the gaming community was pretty excited about the concept.

Ouya's NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) Tegra 3 chipset makes translating mobile games to run on the console easy and its Android OS (NASDAQ:GOOG) means that Android developers can readily publish their apps. At launch, there are over 170 games available for download as well as popular apps like iHeartRadio.

Another huge selling point for the Ouya is the software development kit that's built into the system. Think of the Ouya as the open-source console of the people.

Anyone who has access to the hardware can develop, test, and release their game, so long as they make at least some aspect of it available for free. This means that the potential for creativity is almost unbounded and, better yet, every Ouya owner can sample these works free of charge before committing to the full game. This is a more-than-refreshing change from the usual: wasting $60 on an infrequently played game and suffering from buyer's remorse.

If the Ouya can generate so much momentum all while retailing at a fraction of the price of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), Sony Corporation (NYSE:SNE) and Nintendo Co. Ltd.'s (OTCMKTS:NTDOY) newest devices, it would seem that the current kings of the console industry should be prepping themselves for Ouya to wreak market-share havoc. This, however, is likely not the case.

When it comes down to it, the Ouya provides a niche population with a pretty perfect answer to many of its gripes. For those who are dissatisfied with big industry seeming to take over gaming, as licensing fees and development costs rise and creativity is shirked with each re-skinned sequel, turning to the Ouya is a no-brainer.

For a majority of the population, however, I'd bargain that the big-name games and high production value will be pretty hard to part with, even if the Ouya comes at a significantly reduced cost.

What the Ouya lacks in top-of-the-line hardware, it makes up for with the ease with which games can be developed for it. Quality games will certainly be available for the newest console, but the lesser specs will create some limitations.

The hardcore gaming community is an outspoken one, which is why something like the Ouya can fly off shelves at first. At best, however, I see the Ouya entering the mainstream market as an addendum to consumers' collection of major consoles like the Xbox One, Wii U, and PS4, rather than as a replacement.

While the Ouya controller does feature a touchpad alongside other traditional features, its wow factor is ultimately its open source software, which really only appeals to developers.

For a new console to really take off, the revolution must be in the way users game, not the way they create games. This is where the Oculus Rift, a virtual-reality head-mounted display by Oculus VR, could potentially make waves in the video game market, but with no launch date set, that's a conversation for a later date.

For now, Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo need to keep an eye on one another and let the Ouya operate on the peripherals of the industry.

See also:

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