OUYA Release Date Set: Android Powered Game Console Shipping To Kickstarter Backers On March 28

Finally, a Kickstarter project that arrives on time!

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Just eight months after it closed a wildly successful Kickstarter effort, the OUYA game console is coming to all the fans who first supported the project’s crowdfunding campaign.

OUYA CEO and co-founder Julie Uhrman wrote in a project update on her company’s Kickstarter page on Thursday night that the $100 Android-based game console will begin shipping to Kickstarter backers on 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.”

This is a particularly impressive feat for OUYA given the general trend of crowdsourced projects that it is working against. As CNN calculated in a study last December, some 84 percent of Kickstarter’s best-funded projects -- a group that OUYA fits into, seeing as it’s the second most lucrative project seen on the platform so far -- fail to deliver on time.

The OUYA will become available to others who pre-ordered the device come June and will also be available through major U.S. retail chains such as Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN).

Earlier this month, OUYA announced that it plans to further shake up the traditional video game console business model by providing annual hardware updates -- a production cycle that would make the OUYA more similar to something like a smartphone or tablet (at least in terms of the business model used to support it) than any of the major consoles made by Sony (NYSE:SNE), Nintendo (PINK:NTDOY) or Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT).

Urhman has maintained that the OUYA’s unique reschedule, like many other aspects of the new device, will provide much-needed disruption in a tired and stagnant area of the video game industry. But there is one area of its business model in which OUYA still overlaps with its entrenched rivals: attracting developers to fill the device with good games.

As TIAA-CREF analyst Melissa Otto said in a phone interview, consoles have traditionally followed a “razor, razorblade model” to support themselves. The console manufacturer builds the razor but must provide any number of incentives to convince developers to start making the razors needed to make the device useful.

Uhrman has insisted that the low barriers to entry (the Android software development kit is free, compared to the steep licensing fees studios must pay to develop games on the major consoles) is more than enough to draw talent to the OUYA’s ecosystem.

So far, this seems to be working. Uhrman also announced a number of exclusive partnerships with acclaimed independent developers such as Kim Swift and Minority Media to provide launch titles. The console will also have 10 titles from its recent game jam development challenge done in partnership with Kill Screen magazine. No release date or pricing info was provided for these titles, however.

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