How Will Android Impact The Console Wars?

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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How Will Android Impact The Console Wars?

I know everyone's looking, with no small enthusiasm, toward E3 and the likely release of some new console systems, but one system in particular is shaping up to be a bigger destabilizing element than anything, and it likely doesn't have a name you'll recognize on it. We're talking about the Ouya, and it's got some very strange things going for it.

Perhaps the most immediately noticeable thing about the Ouya is that it's running on a very unusual operating system: Android. We've seen Android phones, and Android tablets...but an Android gaming console is something of a new one. It managed to raise $8.5 million on Kickstarter last year, and it will be coming our way in fairly rapid fashion. Developers already have theirs, and they've begun putting together a series of games so that a wider launch will have launch titles ready to go.

Additionally, it's easy to notice other differences between the two, like the overall size of the Ouya, maybe only a fifth of the size of the Xbox 360.  The controller, however, will prove to be plenty familiar for those who enjoy Xbox 360 gaming.

The Ouya's launch screen looks very nicely laid out, with games, apps, and access to the store available right from the word go. It even comes with a Web browser built in, though it's not clear if that will make it to the full version. If it does, however, this one may have a very nice claim on the living room entertainment market, as Hulu Plus and Netflix may well work from the start. Early tests show that the Ouya's browser can easily handle YouTube, so a wider video focus could be on hand.

That last bit is what really should be unnerving Microsoft. If Ouya's browser carries through to the final release version, and can handle the wide array of video sites out there as well as a normal computer can--and do it without a paywall getting in the way--then Ouya might well be found on a lot of gamers' shelves. Given that the system with one controller is set to cost just $99, that makes this a value proposition, and if it can do video too, then this could just be a serious destabilizing element in gaming. Sure, it's not likely to dethrone the Xbox 360--or the Xbox 720 for that matter--but the Ouya will make an excellent system to have right alongside any other.
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