Ouya: The Upcoming Console Wars’ Not So Small Player

Matt Hawkins gets his hands on an Ouya.

Ouya dev console

Though on a system wide level, the touchpad could be used to navigate the Ouya storefront, since it otherwise controls an on-screen mouse. But the rep would not disclose many details about the store itself. Responsiveness of the touchpad was decent, yet somewhat sluggish in-game. But it was something created during a game jam, purely to demonstrate the controller's capability, so it's ultimately unfair to make a final call at this moment.

When asked if multitouch was possible, I was told no. But when asked if it could be added in via an upcoming software update, I got a noncommittal "maybe?" Again, when thinking of the Ouya controller, one can't help also ask these same questions of the PS4 controller. No word on if that 'll be multitouch either. But given how bigger it is, among other reasons, it's hard to believe that it wouldn't be.

Back to the Ouya shop, I tried digging deeper on that front as well, but alas, there's not a whole lot to say. Basically, it'll be a curated storefront; that much we already know. But when asked if any game or app from the Google Play store will work on the device, or conversely, if any game acquired for the Ouya will work on other Android drive machines that is associated with the user, the answer was an honest "we don't know yet, we're still trying to figure things out."

It'll be interesting to see if the Ouya simply taps into one's Gmail, which is the primary form of "identity" in the general Android ecosystem, or if Ouya has something more tailored towards their own walled garden, something similar to Xbox Live and PlayStation Network.

Naturally, I had to ask if emulators will work on the thing. Because any seasoned gamer with any kind of Android device has managed to get a NES/SNES/Genesis/etc emulator up and running on theirs. And those same types might be salivating at the chance to have something that's as open-ended as Android, but with the added appeal of physical buttons. And once again, its controller is simply the best.

To that, I got a very blunt "no comment." It's hard to say if he's at all familiar with that one video, of an Ouya dev console playing Street Fighter 2 TurboM for the SNES, or if he's all too familiar with it.

While the Ouya is technically not here quite yet… that'll be later this summer, when the general public can get their own at the store of their choice, it's fairly clear that the upcoming console wars are going to be a crowded and confusing one. Even at this early stage, given the potential of the Ouya, it's going to be a battle fought on multiple fronts. But in the end, the winner is us, the consumer. Since choice is good.