Already an unusual piece of hardware for an industry so set in its ways, the OUYA console might have even more in common with its Android brethren than originally thought. Speaking in an interview with Engadget, OUYA co-founder and CEO Julie Uhrman said that rather than following the traditional production cycle of video game consoles, she wants her device to follow a typical mobile development cycle.
"There will be a new Ouya every year. There will be an Ouya 2 and an Ouya 3," Uhrman said. "We'll take advantage of faster, better processors, take advantage of prices falling. So if we can get more than 8GB of Flash in our box, we will."
Compared to other sectors of the consumer electronics and hardware industry, the production cycle of video game consoles moves at a snail’s pace. The latest console life cycle has been especially protracted, approaching a decade since the original Xbox 360 was released in November 2005 -- a fact that has led many industry analysts to wonder if the lack of new hardware has triggered a slowdown of the overall video game market.
But long production and life cycles for consoles also exist for a reason; the big three console developers -- Sony (NYSE:SNE), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and Nintendo (PINK:NTDOY) -- pour incredible amounts of money into their original development, selling hardware to gamers at a loss and licensing their software development kits (SDKs) to other game companies to produce content for the device. Consumers, meanwhile, benefit from not having to worry about keeping their gaming hardware up to date as consistently as many smartphone users do today. It’s much easier to buy a single $500 console that lasts eight years than have to continually update to the latest $100 console released every single holiday season.
Uhrman noted that all games purchased for the OUYA will be backward compatible with each successive iteration of the console. Since users will be purchasing games through an app-store marketplace rather than buying boxed copies of games (which is how most AAA console games are purchased for the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii and Wii U), Uhrman said that all purchases will be tied to the user account rather than a specific disc or device.
“The games will be tied to you, the gamer,” Uhrman told Engadget, suggesting that OUYA’s app store might function in a manner similar to Valve’s PC gaming platform, Steam.
The first OUYA will debut for $99.99 -- that’s a low price for a game console. But $100 per year for 8 to 10 years outpaces even the high starting price of Sony’s PlayStation 3 console. Uhrman did not reveal how much the updated consoles will cost or if there would be any subsidy for upgrading from an earlier model, but she did note that annual upgrades would take advantage of the fast pace of improving hardware.
The OUYA console will is scheduled to enter retail this March, according to an announcement Uhrman made in an earlier interview this week with the Wall Street Journal.