OUYA Android Console Gaming

Its Kickstarter success didn't translate to commercial success

Ouya Android game console
Ouya, Inc.

The OUYA (pronounced Oooh yah) Android gaming console enjoyed a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign that raised its funding goal within eight hours. After meeting that goal, the company supported preorders for the OUYA for $99 per console. In total, the Kickstarter campaign raised $8.5 million, and the company eventually released a retail version of the OUYA Android gaming console.

The OUYA Concept

The concept behind the OUYA Android gaming console was simple: it was a TV-based gaming console that used the Android operating system. OUYA offered a separate app market, but the company allowed and even encouraged hacking of the hardware, so users were able to install apps from the Google Play Store, Amazon Appstore, and other markets. 

OUYA was an overwhelming Kickstarter success, but that good fortune didn't translate into commercial success, for a variety of reasons. OUYA's game market was limited, making sideloading (transferring files between two local devices without the use of the internet) and hacking a necessity. Early models faced user interface and technical issues, further hampering the growth of OUYA.

The essential elements of success were there for OUYA. A lightweight, Android-based gaming console was an innovative idea in 2013, and there was enthusiastic customer demand. However, OUYA faced financial difficulties and in 2015 sold the company and hardware assets to game hardware company Razer. Razer folded the system into its now-defunct Razer Forge TV.

The Forge TV Games Store and OUYA service were officially shut down in June 2019.

How Did the OUYA Play Games on a TV?

The OUYA game controller looked like a cross between a console game and a tablet. The controller had direction indicators and button toggles similar to PlayStation and Xbox controllers, but the OUYA game controller also supported a touchscreen. OUYA claimed this controller would be fast and just the right weight, which was not necessarily true of the initial prototypes. Reviews of the commercial models were more favorable. 

Original Hardware Specs

These were the hardware specifications for the original OUYA Android gaming console:

  • Tegra3 quad-core processor
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 8 GB of internal flash storage
  • HDMI connection to the TV, with support for up to 1080p HD
  • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth LE 4.0
  • USB 2.0 (one)
  • Wireless controller with standard controls (two analog sticks, d-pad, eight action buttons, a system button), and a touchpad
  • Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) 

How Could This Have Changed Everything?

The OUYA held great promise initially. At the time of the OUYA launch, there were limited open-source solutions for gaming. Traditional console games such as the Wii, Xbox 360, and Sony PlayStation locked developers into a closed market system that was expensive for game players. Android, on the other hand, offered an easy open-source market without high developer fees.

The basic ideas behind the OUYA live on. Today the Android TV platform offers the OUYA app store vision while allowing players to purchase hardware from multiple manufacturers.