How the Ouya Works

Jonathan Strickland


Back in July, 2012, Julie Uhrman launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a new type of gaming console called Ouya. It would sport the Android operating system and allow gamers to play everything from casual games to hardcore first person shooters. Uhrman promised the console would be developer and even hacker friendly, promising that gamers won't void the system's warranty if they choose to root the console. One month and more than 8.5 million dollars later, the project funded.

Uhrman herself has a background in video games that spans a decade. Before founding Ouya, she worked for companies like IGN and GameFly. She secured initial funding from friends and peers in the gaming and technology sectors, avoiding the venture capital pathway entirely. The Kickstarter campaign provided the money necessary to finish developing the Ouya and push it into production. The first consoles should hit store shelves in June 2013.

The brains of the console is a Tegra 3 quad-core processor from Nvidia. Designed for mobile devices, the Tegra line of processors pack a punch while going easy on power consumption. Each core of the processor can be active or inactive based upon the amount of work the chip needs to do.

The console will also have 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of flash-based storage. To connect to a network you can either use an Ethernet port on the console or connect wirelessly. Video output is over an HDMI connection -- the Ouya supports 1080p resolution.

The Ouya will run games built upon the Android operating system. They'll include titles ported over from other platforms and original games designed with the Ouya in mind. Gamers will download titles to the console's drive. The Ouya will also work with streaming services like OnLive, which allows gamers to play titles that are running on a remote machine. As you play on your console, commands are sent to the remote machine -- possibly hundreds of miles away. The machine sends back the information your Ouya needs to show you what's going on.

Gamers will have the chance to test out titles in a free trial format before committing to a purchase. They can also download other apps to extend the Ouya's functionality to a full entertainment system. And if you're the type of gamer who really likes showing off, you'll probably love the TwitchTV partnership that will allow you to broadcast your gameplay.

The hackability of the device may mean it becomes a go-to console for many gamers. Imagine creating an emulator for the Ouya that lets you play classic video games from the good old days of the NES or SNES. And the console's $100 price tag makes it even more attractive.

Will the Ouya succeed in a market dominated by giants like Sony and Microsoft? Or will this crowdfunded marvel just be a blip on the gaming radar? What's your take?