OUYA Android Console Gaming

An initial Kickstarter success for gaming on Androids

Ouya game console
Ouya, Inc.

OUYA (pronounced Oooh yah) was a record-breaking Kickstarter project that raised its funding goal within eight hours. After meeting the goal, they supported pre-orders through their Kickstarter project for $99 per console, and they raised $8.5 million through Kickstarter and eventually released a retail version of the OUYA console.

The OUYA Concept

The concept was simple. It was a TV-based gaming console that used Android as the operating system. OUYA offered a separate app market, but they allowed and even encouraged hacking of the hardware itself, so users could install apps from the Google Play market, Amazon App Market, or other app markets. The OUYA game store still has a few offerings. 

OUYA was an overwhelming Kickstarter success, but that did not translate into a commercial success. OUYA's game market was limited, making sideloading and hacking a necessity, and the early production models faced user interface and technical issues.

The basic parts were all there. A lightweight Android-based gaming console was an innovative idea in 2013, and there was customer demand. However, OUYA faced financial difficulties and eventually sold the company and hardware assets to the game hardware company, Razor, who folded the system into the Razer Forge TV. 

How Did the OUYA Play Games on a TV?

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

Original Hardware Specs

These were the hardware specifications for the OUYA 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?

At the time of the OUYA's launch, there were limited open source solutions for gaming. Traditional console games like the Wii, Xbox 360, and Sony Playstation locked developers into a closed market system, and they were expensive for game players. Android offered an easy open-source market without high developer fees.

Today the Android TV platform offers OUYA's app store vision while allowing players to purchase hardware from multiple different manufacturers. When OUYA sold its core assets to Razer, the remains of OUYA were folded into the Razer Forge TV system, which runs on Android TV.