OUYA (pronounced Oooh yah) is a fully funded Kickstarter project aimed for launch in March of 2013. As of this writing, they're still supporting pre-orders through their Kickstarter project for $99 per console. That includes one controller. Extra controllers are $30. They also offer higher funding incentives, such as engraved controllers and early releases.
The concept is simple. It's a TV-based gaming console that uses Android as the operating system. OUYA will offer a separate app market, but they allow and even encourage hacking of the hardware itself, so it's very likey users could install apps from the Google Play market, Amazon App Market, or other app markets.
How is anyone going to play an Android game on a TV?
OUYA is advertising a game controller that looks like a cross between what you'd expect on a console game and a tablet. There's a joystick and button toggles, but the game controller also supports a touchscreen. OUYA claims that this controller will be "fast" and "just the right weight," but until prototypes start shipping, that remains to be seen.
- Tegra3 quad-core processor
- 1GB RAM
- 8GB of internal flash storage
- HDMI connection to the TV, with support for up to 1080p HD
- WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
- Bluetooth LE 4.0
- USB 2.0 (one)
- Wireless controller with standard controls (two analog sticks, d-pad, eight action buttons, a system button), and a touchpad
- Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwhich)
How could this change everything?
Right now, there's no real open source solution for gaming. Traditional console games like the Wii, Xbox 360, and Sony Playstation lock developers into a closed market system. Android is an open platform developing more and more flexibility to allow developers to write code that will work on a wide variety of systems and hardware configurations. That means the same code you wrote for a phone could work on a tablet or a console game.
When it's released, it could also change nothing. A lot depends on adoption. The fact that their Kickstarter was funded quickly is a good sign that there is market demand for an inexpensive console with lower priced apps. Imagine buying a lot of $5 and $10 (or even free) apps instead of spending $50 per game.
The one thing the OUYA console is missing is motion detection like the Kinect, Wii, or Playstation Move systems. However, with an open and hackable system, that may be a problem that can be solved. Google is no doubt watching this concept closely.