OUYA Release Date Announced As First Consoles Ship To Kickstarter Backers, With Price Starting At $99

 @redletterdave
on March 29 2013 11:28 AM

With the first batch of pre-ordered OUYA consoles rolling out to Kickstarter backers on Friday, makers of the Android-based game system announced that retail stores in the U.S., the UK and Canada will start selling the all-new gaming hardware on June 4.

OUYA will be available through several stores on that June 4 release date, including big box retailers like Best Buy and Target, as well as Gamestop. The OUYA will also be released online through the company's OUYA website and Amazon.

As originally advertised, the U.S. price of the OUYA is set at $99, with the UK price also tentatively listed at £99.99 ($150). Engadget says the total $99 system will include the console hardware, one wireless controller, power and HDMI cables, and two AA batteries for the controller. OUYA will also release individual controllers at $49 each.

OUYA may also release separate bundles of the OUYA system: The company initially said it planned to sell one console with one controller for $109, one console and two controllers for $139 and one console with four controllers for $199. International orders were said to cost $10 more for each bundle and $20 extra for shipping. We've reached out to OUYA about this specific price structure and whether or not it will be implemented upon the console's official release date, and we'll update this story as soon as we learn more.

Unlike other gaming consoles like the Xbox 360 or PS3, where the console price is often minuscule compared to the overall cost of purchasing games, all OUYA games are free to play at the start.

"This is a big undertaking," OUYA CEO Julie Uhrman said in the company's Kickstarter video. "Effectively, we're trying to disrupt an established industry. It takes a lot of guts and courage, and, if I wasn't a female, I'd say big balls."

Uhrman, who has plenty of experience in the gaming business as the former VP of digital at GameFly and VP of digital distribution and business development at IGN Entertainment, said OUYA was inspired by the nostalgia of playing video games in the living room.

"I love video games, but more and more people are moving away from the television," Uhrman said. "There's a lot of focus today on the mobile and Web platform. It's easier to develop games for those platforms than the television. It costs a lot of money, you have to work with established players in the space, and I've been trying to figure out: How do we get them back to it?"

Uhrman wanted to make the gaming console truly accessible to both gamers and developers alike. So in addition to making all games free to play, the OUYA was also built on open-source technology from Android, which effectively creates more opportunities for curious but lesser-known developers to produce and sell games they actually want to make.

"The console business as it is today is completely closed to the independent developer," Brian Fargo, founder of gaming company inXile, said. "The more we have something like this open console that can break that, it's gonna open up a new business sentiment for the independent developers."

Uhrman promised the OUYA will have "all the game genres you love" from the start, including shooters, platformers, sports and RPGs, as well as games from big-name and indie console publishers.

"'Minecraft' is going to be on it, and Twitch.TV, so you can watch 'Starcraft' and 'League of Legends,'" Uhrman said.

Ouya says the console will provide game streaming through OnLive, and it will also host a streaming media app from XBMC, music from TuneIn and iHeartRadio, and even music videos from Vevo.

"This is the perfect hybrid of something that's inexpensive, open, and it comes with a fantastic controller," Fargo said.

According to the company, the specs of the OUYA console include a built-in Tegra3 quad-core processor, 8 GB of internal flash storage and 1 GB of RAM. As far as connectivity goes, Ouya is Bluetooth 4.0-enabled and has a single USB 2.0 port, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, ethernet and an HDMI port for the TV, which can support up to 1080p HD. 

OUYA's wireless controllers, which were designed by Fuseproject founder Yves Behar, were built with two analog sticks, eight action buttons, a system button and a directional (D)-pad.

"We really focus a lot on what the gamers are looking for. Precise controls, tactility, right sizing," Behar said. "What makes Ouya different and gives it the potential of changing the gaming environment is you are able to build things right from the start, where you don't have to pay outrageous amounts of money for a dev kit or you don't have to have a lot of credentials -- just good ideas."

Gamers clearly believe the OUYA is one of these "good ideas." After it went on Kickstarter on July 10, the OUYA surpassed its $950,000 goal in less than 24 hours, going on to make $8,596,475 from 63,416 different backers -- more than eight times what the company hoped to raise.

Back in March, Uhrman announced the OUYA would ship out its first finished units to Kickstarter backers starting March 28.

“Parts are in the factory, and assembly lines are buzzing,” Uhrman said. “We’ll gradually ramp up production as we make sure things are working.”

Do you plan to purchase an OUYA console on its June 4 release date? Do you believe the OUYA can make an impact in the gaming industry? Let us know in the comments section below.

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