OUYA, the console that started on Kickstarter less than a year ago, and promised to deliver us a $100 console with a Tegra 3 chip, is finally going to be shipped a month from now, at least to its the tens of thousands of its Kickstarter backers – the people that believed enough in it to pay for it before it even existed. The full public launch will happen in June this year.
I think OUYA is a very interesting project, that will probably find success, even if the tech media isn’t very excited about it. For example, I could see OUYA being very successful with kids in the 5-10 year old. It’s a very affordable games console. It has free or very cheap games compared to PS3 and Xbox (almost 500 in number now), so a parent could easily buy the kid tens of these games, or he could play them for free. So for this type of market I think it’s a very good proposition.
For the techie/gamer crowd, unfortunately, OUYA looks less exciting or useful right now, and I think this may hurt it in the reviews on tech sites, too. OUYA’s mistake was to lack a modern 2013 chip. Instead it has one from late 2011, that granted, it’s a bit overclocked in both CPU and GPU, but not nearly enough to compete with this year’s phone or tablet chips.
What that means is that it won’t even be able to support many 1080p games, and there won’t be that many visually impress games either. These games should look worse than the games we’ll start seeing this year on the high-end chips. People could live with the idea that OUYA has a mobile chip, and it won’t have the graphics performance of the next Xbox and PS4, but if it has worse graphics than even this year’s smartphones, that may be a problem.
Ideally, OUYA should’ve arrived with a chip like Tegra 4 (considering its public launch is in June anyway, months after Tegra 4’s first public release), but overclocked enough (say by 30%-50% in both CPU and GPU) to make OUYA more “future-proof” so even next year’s games can play on it with about the same graphics fidelity. And since it would be more powerful than any mobile chip released this year (because of the overclocking), that means it could also have games that look more visually impressive than any mobile game. That’s something to be excited about, and it would appeal a lot to the techie/gamer crowd, too.
But OUYA missed their chance to do this for this year. So my hope is that they follow this strategy next year, not by releasing an overclocked Tegra 4 console in 2014, but an overclocked Tegra 5 one. They should talk to Nvidia to give them the chip as soon as they start sampling it to others (usually 9-12 months before shipping), and then make sure they release it soon after other Tegra 5 devices come to market. If they do this, the techie/gamer crowd might become excited about OUYA 2 once again. An overclocked Tegra 5 could probably offer more visually impressive games than even PS3 and Xbos360 games. For $100 and very cheap indie games, I think that would be a pretty good deal.