That crazy little Android console called OUYA is reportedly heading out to Kickstarter backers on March 28. According to the team, parts are in the factory and assembly lines are "buzzing". Production will gradually ramp up once all the assembly bugs are ironed out. In the meantime, the $99 device is still slated for a full June release at retail outlets like Best Buy, GameStop and Target.
"Tens of thousands of you will receive your OUYA, and you’ll get to start playing right away," the team said. "You will also get to watch OUYA evolve over the coming weeks and months. We’ll continue to add new features, refine our user experience, and bring on more games."
Kim Swift and a small team of developers are also working on an exclusive title for the Android console. Swift was formerly employed by Value and worked on hit games like Portal and Left 4 Dead.
"We truly feel that this platform will give us the freedom to fully realize the funky, unique game we have in mind," she said. "Though the title will definitely appeal to core gamers in terms of skill and difficulty, it really has a completely unexpected, imaginative slant that’s totally at home on this console."
OUYA should do a fine job of shaking up the console gaming industry this summer, offering console-quality titles sold through a built-in (non-Google Play) store. Under the hood, the square gadget sports a quad-core Tegra 3 SoC clocked at 1.7 GHz, 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of internal storage, a USB port and a microUSB port. It will also come with a special wireless controller, and the Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" OS.
The OUYA console arrives as Microsoft and Sony begin to duke it out for the consumer dollar this holiday season with the release of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox Infinity. Sony recently semi-revealed its console, showcasing a few games, the controller and a list of specs. Microsoft is slated to do a semi-reveal of its own in April, while both are expected to reveal their full arsenal in June during E3 2013.
Will OUYA make an impact on their sales? That will depend on Sony and Microsoft's final products. Gamers have grown accustomed to spending short amounts of time and small amounts of money via smartphones and tablets. The rate of hardware maturity is also quicker in the mobile sector, meaning that eventually smartphones and tablets -- including OUYA -- will surpass even the new 2013 consoles.
That said, both Microsoft and Sony will need to have conceived of a way to keep gamers glued to consoles rather than relying on a rapidly advancing mobile industry. With OUYA, gamers may not have Mario and Gears of War and Killzone, but they'll likely have quality games developed by the likes of Electronic Arts, SEGA, Square Enix, Capcom and more (ongoing list) in time. Plus, the console itself is $99, making it an easy upgrade each time the hardware is refreshed.