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What does Ouya Mean for the Future of Gaming

What does Ouya Mean for the Future of Gaming

Well everyone knows it was merely a matter of time before an open source game console also made its way to the market. The open source culture has strong roots and fervent followers, and certainly a video game console one was not long away. And now we have Ouya. Running on the Android mobile operating system, the console is funded by the public through Kickstarter. Therefore the creators have solved the question (which company is going to accept the risk of funding an open source system) by crossing it out and going straight to the consumer for the money. (You can read Mike’s article for a full account of the funding). The hardware is rather impressive in its medium quality with a Tegra 3 quad-core processor and 1GB RAM and the display is HD. Therefore there will be no Skyrim or Gears of War on this console. The price is completely reasonable with $99. The games of the console are going to be exclusive (and at least partially free) and they are most probably produced by indie developers. Potential games on the new platform include Minecraft, Canabalt, Triple Town, League of Legends, and Team Fortress 2. The hardware will be moddable and rooting the console will not void the warranty but it is encouraged. This is what we know so far.

I have pushed for open source video games and program engines my whole life. The main problem of the gaming industry is the absolute monopoly of business over all its aspects, and its full artistic potential will never be truly met and its creative force will not be unleashed until the artist takes over the businessman and rules the day. One aspect of this monopoly is the fact that the console market is divided between three companies. Any new console from another company is a good thing, and an open source console is a great console. The ideal market is a truly free market (generally it has always bugged me why most of my fellow Libertarians don’t realize that a market under big corporations is NOT a free market) which is mainly driven by competitions with cheap games playable on a dozen consoles while the main force behind the industry are the creators and not the investors. Ouya is something along the same line, so I welcome it.

But what does it mean for the future of the gaming? What role will it play? To answer this, we might ask ourselves, is the relationship between Ouya and PS3/X360/Wii/WiiU is more like a relationship between Linux and Windows/Mac-OS or more like the one between Android and iOS? Because Linux, no matter how awesome it is, it is merely on the margins of the PC market, serving a fringe group of hardcore fans and completely unknown to the casual users while Android is the serious competitor of iOS and a big part of the mainstream market. Because just as Linux has not changed the dynamics of its market, neither any open source system which is separate from the mainstream.

Why Linux has failed (in this respect) and Android has not? There are two reasons. First off, Linux does not support most of the things that Windows does. And I believe the most important one is video games. Someone might accept Gimp for Photoshop and Open Office for MS Office- I use all these programs on Windows, but ultimately, a PC without video games is no PC. But this does not apply to Android, anything that you have on iOS, I have on Android, whether a game or an App, maybe I have the same thing maybe I have something very similar. The second reason is the user interface which is hard in Linux and easy in Windows, as even Ubuntu and the like require a lot of knowledge and dedication not all PC users have. Again, Android is as userfriendly as iOS.

I don’t whether or not Ouya will be as userfriendly as PS3/X360/Wii/WiiU or not. since it runs on Android, it’ll most probably be. But the hardware and the general feel of the console shows that it is not going to be prominent in the mainstream market of the video games. I mean, I might buy the console, but I will certainly buy other consoles as well. I mean, my main console is not going to be the one without Metal Gear Rising 2 or Elder Scrolls VI. Indie games are lovely, but they will never dethrone the mainstream games, in nothing, whether in technical or artistic quality or in investment and business. They will live on the margins, for a dedicated audience.

Ouya, most probably, will be the console for this marginal dedicated audience. As such, it will be very interesting, but it will not impact the gaming world as a whole and it will not be a big player in the future of the industry.

Assuming that the whole thing will not go bankrupt along the way.

2 Comments

  1. It certainly is interesting finally having an open-source console. We’ve had an open-source handheld before in the GP32 (I believe that was the one), but never a full-blown console. While the OUYA itself might not be the greatest thing ever, it could likely be a pioneer, leading to open-source consoles competitive with the mainstream. I’m intrigued to see where this goes.

  2. I agree, I think OpenPandora at least in part proves what you’ve said.

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