5 Ways the Ouya Game Console Failed
Ouya game console
CREDIT: Tom's Guide
"The Walking Dead," one of 2012's most acclaimed games, is officially on tap for the Android Ouya game console. That's great news — except you don't need an Ouya to play it, or much else.
The Ouya had one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns in history, raising more than $8.5 million, but it seems that everything's been going downhill since then. Plagued by console shortages, half-baked firmware and a library that still lacks a killer app after five months, the Ouya has a long way to go before it finds its niche somewhere between traditional consoles and Android or iOS mobile devices — if it ever does. Here are the Ouya's five fatal flaws:
1. Few original games
Video-game consoles live and die by their library of games, and by that logic, the Ouya is already dead. Make no mistake: There are good games for the Ouya but very few you can't already get on other consoles. You can play "Angry Birds" on everything short of a toaster, and the "Final Fantasy III" remake came out for the Nintendo DS in 2006. Even "The Walking Dead," which was just announced for an Ouya release, has been on other platforms — including Android and iOS phones and tablets — for more than a year. There are a few Ouya-exclusive titles en route (including a soul-music-inspired dungeon crawler called "Soul Fjord" from "Portal" designer Kim Swift), but if you have any other kind of gaming device, you already have access to 99 percent of Ouya's library. To add insult to injury, although the Ouya is an Android-powered device, you can't play stock Android games on it unless you hack it first.
2. No audience
In theory, the Ouya is an affordable console that bridges the gap between Android and iOS mobile devices and traditional consoles like the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. However, the audience that Ouya is courting doesn't appear to exist. The asking price is low at $100, but if a user already owns an Android (or iOS) device, it's $100 more than he or she really needs to spend. Consumers can buy a low-end Xbox 360 or PS3 for $200, complete with a huge selection of high-end games and streaming video apps. When placed between a powerful mobile device and a robust traditional console, a cheap jack-of-all-trades may not seem that attractive.
3. Poor controller
The Ouya itself is a slick little cube that can weather a bit of a beating. Its controller, however, seems to be held together with spit and elbow grease. To be fair, the peripheral looks pretty enough — something like an elongated PS3 controller with Xbox 360-style buttons and analog sticks. The device falls apart — almost literally — in actual use, though. The analog sticks lack precision, and the buttons also get stuck. Replacing batteries is a pain, thanks to removable faceplates that aren't quite as removable as advertised. You can hook up a PS3 or Xbox 360 controller instead, but offering an alternative to a peripheral that works poorly right out of the box is not encouraging.
4. Limited capabilities
The Ouya is a cheap device, but low cost comes at a high price. In order to save on production costs, the Ouya has relatively unimpressive parts under the hood. Benchmarking company Futuremark ranks the Ouya No. 141 on a list of 422 Android devices currently on the market, outstripped by phones like the Samsung Galaxy S4 and tablets like the Google Nexus 7. If you've bought your phone or tablet in the past year, it will probably run games with better graphical fidelity and processing speed than the Ouya. Furthermore, since most mobile games are designed with touch controls in mind, using a controller, instead of a screen, could prove unwieldy.
The Ouya is simple enough to plug in to a TV and set up, but it's not that much harder to do the same thing with your existing mobile device. Many high-end phones and tablets have a mini-HDMI or other A/V port that allows them to hook up a device to a TV. A $5 HDMI adapter and a $25 Android controller will allow you to play Android games on your TV at a $70 discount. (And for iOS devices, Apple will add support for third-party game controllers in iOS 7.) Even better, when you want to take your games on the go, just unhook your device and stick it in your pocket or backpack. Although it involves a tiny bit more effort to connect a smartphone or tablet to a TV, it's still quite easy and provides many more options than an Ouya — for example, streaming Netflix or loading up an e-book on a big screen.