The crowd-funded, Android-powered Ouya game console finally has a release date: supporters who backed the Ouya project on Kickstarter should start receiving their consoles soon, while everybody else will have to wait until June 4th to get their hands on the experimental indie console.
The base Ouya package comes with the console, one wireless controller, HDMI and power cables, and batteries for the controller, all for $99. Representatives from Twitch.tv announced yesterday that the Ouya will be the first console to support streaming via their service, and all Ouya consoles will have the Twitch app preloaded into the system’s harddrive. Twitch’s console streaming services were originally supposed to debut on the Xbox 360 last year, but that version of the app has run into “development snags,” and is now expected to launch on the platform sometime in May.
All games for the console will be free-to-play in some way: similar to 90’s shareware titles on PC, some games will require a paid code to unlock all their content, while others will be supported via micro-transactions or even voluntary donations. Ouya’s developers have even announced that they’re okay with people creating emulators for other consoles on the Ouya, though players will have to track down ROMs for those emulators on their own.
The Ouya seems to have already won over retailers, as the company announced last night that the system will be available at most major American retailers, including Amazon, Target, Best Buy, and GameStop. Customers will also be able to order the system directly from the Ouya company themselves.
Meanwhile, Ouya’s Kickstarter backers should start receiving their consoles within a week: the system’s creators announced last night that early backers of the system should expect to see the Ouya arrive on their doorstep within the next five to ten days.
While the makers of the Ouya are positioning it as a hipper, indie alternative to the likes of Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft, early impressions of the Ouya have been mixed, and it remains to be seen if the Ouya can repeat its astounding Kickstarter success with a mainstream audience. At a mere $99, I think I’ll probably end up buying an Ouya simply out of curiosity, but the platform is going to need more than a few ports of mobile games if it wants to be anything besides a curio. The Ouya certainly has some interesting ideas behind it that could potentially give the entire industry the shake-up it desperately needs, but I’m still not sure the Ouya manages to execute on those ideas well enough to give it an edge against the more established console manufacturers.