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Early OUYA Android Console Reviews Aren't Encouraging

By - Source: Engadget | B 30 comments

Reviews based on the early version shipped to Kickstarter backers aren't very positive. Is it too early for an opinion?

If you're waiting anxiously for a little Android action in the form of a console, look no further than the upcoming OUYA slated for a June release. However a number of reviews that are now surfacing suggest that Android gamers may need to keep looking, as the Tegra 3-powered gaming cube falls short of expectations.

But consider this first: the model currently under evaluation by the press is the pre-retail edition offered to financial backers of the Kickstarter project. It's an exclusive preview period, according to CEO Julie Uhrman, while the team continues to add features, refine the user interface, and keep building the software as the console heads toward its retail launch.

"We hope that you, our founding backers, continue to shape OUYA as we prepare to launch to the masses," she said. "Your feedback, to date, has been incredibly helpful and as you know, we’ve acted on many of your ideas and suggestions. We want your feedback on these first units."

But that hasn't stopped reviews from popping up anyway. The Verge gives it a 3.5 out of 10, saying it's a million miles away from something worth spending $99 on. Ouch.

"Even if the concept is right, the Ouya misses the mark," the review states. "The controller needs work, the interface is a mess, and have I mentioned there's really nothing to do with the thing? I'm not even sure the concept is right, either: there are plenty of fun Android games, but currently few that work well with a controller and even fewer that look good on your television."

Engadget, seemingly respecting the pre-release aspect, doesn't give its hands-on a score. But the site sides with The Verge on a number of issues, noting a lack of new games and controller lag. It also clearly points out that the device is a little rough around the edges in its current state.

"The version of OUYA shipping now should be considered a beta release, and anyone hoping for anything more is in for some disappointment," the hands-on states. "It's simply not ready for retail. The system is rough around the edges in many ways, quite literally when regarding the controller, but the interface and menus also could use work."

Phandroid wasn't quite so negative in its unboxing last week, but noted that the initial setup process might hit some snags if the user has "dodgy" Wi-Fi. There was also some mention about the time it took pairing the Bluetooth controllers to the console, but gameplay lag was not part of the topic.

"I’m mostly impressed with the software flow although I do have a few minor complaints," Phandroid states. "It would be nice to actually select thumbnails from each game listing and view them on the larger screen at full resolution. While you can 'thumbs up' a game, I’d love to see more social interaction brought to the OUYA so I can see which of my friends like certain games or even see suggested games based on what other similar users have downloaded."

These are the first three that have popped up so far. Additional reviews will likely roll out over the next several days, especially after proud new owners take the console for a spin over the weekend.

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  • 11 Hide
    Immoral Medic , April 4, 2013 7:21 PM
    Not gonna say I didn't see this coming. I was just gonna say there really isn't a HUGE market for this type of console, but then apparently, in this article, people are saying they pretty much failed on the console itself. Kind of like a double whammy. Good luck to them, but I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't do well at all.
Other Comments
  • 11 Hide
    Immoral Medic , April 4, 2013 7:21 PM
    Not gonna say I didn't see this coming. I was just gonna say there really isn't a HUGE market for this type of console, but then apparently, in this article, people are saying they pretty much failed on the console itself. Kind of like a double whammy. Good luck to them, but I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't do well at all.
  • 2 Hide
    ricardok , April 4, 2013 7:24 PM
    To me, it's a nice idea, only that the release wasn't ready. They are, probably, pushing units through the fabs and working on the software side as a second phase...

    Maybe we should wait for the OUYA2?

    Anyway, I'll be going with a PS4.. I'm a PC guy with a real interest in consoles for their exclusive games (God of War anyone??)...
  • 4 Hide
    hoofhearted , April 4, 2013 7:35 PM
    Not that there are any compelling games on Android in the first place, unless freemium or cheap kiddieish is your thing.
  • 1 Hide
    CarolKarine , April 4, 2013 7:35 PM
    god damn exclusives. I want to play SSX.
  • 5 Hide
    gigantor21 , April 4, 2013 7:41 PM
    ricardokTo me, it's a nice idea, only that the release wasn't ready.


    Honestly, I don't know if the concept is that good to begin with. A console that plays Android games doesn't sound like something that'd pull me away from my PC or PS3, while a smartphone/tablet with mini-HDMI could complement both of those in the same way while offering far more functionality and portability. There are already wireless controllers for current Android devices as it is.

    I'm not sure what their angle is with this, frankly. It's like having the worst aspects of mobile devices and consoles but none of the advantages.
  • 3 Hide
    vmem , April 4, 2013 7:45 PM
    Saw this coming the minute they put a Tegra 3 in it. mobile CPUs are still a year or two away from being able to handle what one would want from a console and a big screen. like many have said, OUYA2 may hit the mark. though unfortunately OUYA isn't Microsoft or Sony, if this one doesn't succeed, we'll have to wait for another company to pick up the pieces
  • 0 Hide
    felix666 , April 4, 2013 7:59 PM
    With consumer products, everything is about the surface finish and not on the core functionality. Think of Linux vs Windows or Apple. Think of the first Linux distis. Open source is open source, not saying at all that is isn't good, but there aren't millions and millions invested into the good looks of the UI and to the ease of installation. Even if the hardware shows a good performance, the rest of the ecosystem may just never reach par with the consoles from the game giants. I wish it will, but it may also just become some niche product, unless a killer game appears. But wouldn't that same killer game be available on the other consoles, and on the droid tablets as well? The developers need to feed their families. Good luck Ouya, the marketplace is tough!
  • 1 Hide
    teh_chem , April 4, 2013 8:50 PM
    No surprise here. OUYA is the jack of all trades yet a master of none. It has a severe case of identity crisis. Sure, it looks like something that a "hacker" would love, but that's a very, very, very small population to base a product on. I think this thing was the "console" analog to the Facebook IPO. Everyone loved talking about it, but it will end up just being "meh."

    Sadly, the future of consoles (and video games) is streaming. Going backwards in time and building a native console around an old Tegra3 platform was a surefire way to flop their debut.
  • 6 Hide
    lazykoala , April 4, 2013 8:54 PM
    This was obvious. Don't expect AAA quality gaming from a $99 cube. You're better off buying a 3DS or vita or just stick with a smartphone if you want something portable and casual.
  • 3 Hide
    yobobjm , April 4, 2013 9:01 PM
    TBH I'm not sure the concept is all that solid to start with. Just about everyone I know likes playing on their PCconsolebox more than on their phone, and only plays phone games when they are bored. And even if this did succeed I think we would all realized that phone game really are no good, and that we just have lowered expectations since, well, since they're on a phone.
  • -6 Hide
    cinergy , April 4, 2013 10:35 PM
    True fandroids will buy it anyways. Their taste in phones carries seamlessly to consoles.
  • 1 Hide
    CaedenV , April 4, 2013 10:43 PM
    Immoral MedicNot gonna say I didn't see this coming. I was just gonna say there really isn't a HUGE market for this type of console, but then apparently, in this article, people are saying they pretty much failed on the console itself. Kind of like a double whammy. Good luck to them, but I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't do well at all.

    I think we all saw this coming with Tegra3 was announced as the processing platform. Plus it is going to take time to build up fab production for volume ordering in order to get price down so that better hardware can get crammed in there.

    I still think that it will succeed for what it is, and that it will get MUCH better in just 2-3 years, but indie gaming is rarely my cup of tea, and I have plenty of other system that are more capable of playing them, so I am not too hot on the idea of buying another redundant product. The goal is to have a few high quality products that do a bunch of things well... not a sea of cheap things that do little to nothing well.
  • 3 Hide
    kyuuketsuki , April 4, 2013 11:16 PM
    Um, yes, it is too early to give a review based on a pre-production version of the device.

    Not to mention, there's far more you can do with this device than play big-screen smartphone games. I especially like how Mr. Parrish failed to note that reports show that the XBMC functionality of the Ouya is fantastic. Seems to me that the Ouya could be a cheap, very low-power alternative for Roku-type boxes, except with far more potential.

    Yeah, Tegra 3 isn't anything amazing. It can do what the Ouya needs it to do just fine, though, and you can't expect them to stick a brand-new, top-of-the-line SoC in there and keep the cost at under a hundred.

    Oh, and plus the whole development was pre-funded by Kickstarter supporters. So, it's really kind impossible for it to "flop" with what amounts to 8 million dollars in preorders.

    Disclaimer: I am not an Ouya backer. Heck, I've never even owned an Android device. But the people bashing it really don't seem to know what they're talking about. Hint: it does not have to sell the same sort of numbers as a mainstream console to be a success. Heck, the Ouya is already far more successful than the creators ever dreamed, and it hasn't even been released yet (outside of the pre-retail versions being "reviewed").
  • -1 Hide
    shriganesh , April 5, 2013 12:14 AM
    The thing that put me off in the first place was the lack of Google Play access! I'd love to play mini games. OUYA was designed to be 'open'. Hope someone hacks OUYA and makes it work with Google Play.

    OUYA should make a custom Android software which remaps swipes, touches and accelerometer movements into controller movements or keys. Just like what Archos has did with their Gamepad.
  • -1 Hide
    doive1231 , April 5, 2013 12:27 AM
    Well we all remember Windows 8 CP and look how the retail turned out. My feedback would be, Tegra 4?
  • 1 Hide
    dillonpeterliam , April 5, 2013 12:47 AM
    I think people are wrong when comparing this to the PS3/4 or Xbox, If I was to buy this it would be for my daughter and her cousins/friends, so they dont get my tablet/phone or console sticky! or break them. I think its been taking a little to seriously.
  • 1 Hide
    icemunk , April 5, 2013 3:01 AM
    They'll need time to make a nice UI, or even the help of the open-source community after people start modding them.. The hardware is good, hopefully they correct the wifi issue. $99 ain't bad, even if the software is a bit glitchy, that's normal, especially for a startup
  • 1 Hide
    hetneo , April 5, 2013 3:20 AM
    Damn this is shame, they shouldn't have shipped beta product, no matter how good final product is this fiasco will hurt their sales.
  • 1 Hide
    techguy911 , April 5, 2013 4:06 AM
    What do they expect its a smart phone in a box with a custom controller and interface also the games won't have killer graphics either because they are designed for that type of hardware.
    For $99 what do they expect ps4 power and graphics? will never happen remember that those games are designed for small screens so they are low resolution.
  • 0 Hide
    jkflipflop98 , April 5, 2013 4:31 AM
    They need to have some sort of On-Live type service streaming real games to it. Then you've got a winner.
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