It's almost here, Android gamers. Time to build another library.
As promised by OUYA CEO Julie Uhrman during Nvidia's GPU Tech Conference, the team behind the Android-powered console revealed the retail version at a special event Thursday night during GDC 2013. Uhrman said this model will go on sale in stores nationwide on June 4.
Meanwhile, shipments to early Kickstarter backers have already begun, so project funders should see the console appear in their mailboxes soon. "This is only the beginning," Uhrman said. "Today begins an exclusive preview period as we gear up to launch in June. We’ll continue to add features, refine the user interface, and keep building the software as we head toward our retail launch."
She added that as of 8pm Pacific Thursday, the OUYA console has 104 published games available, all of which are free to try including Final Fantasy III, Beast Boxing Turbo, Stalagflight, Knightmare Tower, Save the Puppies and more. Entertainment apps include Flixster, XBMC and TwitchTV. Eight thousand developers have created developer accounts with OUYA, she said.
Based on Uhrman's updated blog, this first wave of units shipping out to Kickstarter backers are "beta" units much like Google is dishing out "Explorer" units of its Glass wearable tech. Feedback based on these first waves will help shape the final retail units before they arrive in the hands of consumers. Based on the Kickstarter OUYA numbers, that's roughly 63,416 streams of feedback. Google is only offering 8,000 Glass preview units.
"We want your feedback on these first units," she said. "We are also creating forums keep the [conversation] going. In fact, we are planning an “AMA” (ask me anything) on Reddit to get your ideas. We’ll do this in April (date still TBD), after you’ve had time to give OUYA a whirl."
Earlier this week MakerBot said that it has partnered with OUYA to let customers create their very own 3D printed OUYA console case. The company worked with the OUYA team to create a 3D Printing Development Kit, provided on Thingverse.com, optimized for the MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer. Console cases are printed with custom colors and patterns in rugged PLA.
"OUYA is all about being open – from allowing any game developer to make games for the TV to being able to literally open the console with a standard screwdriver," Uhrman said. "It was a natural progression to extend our openness by partnering with MakerBot. What better way to bring OUYA’s console to life than letting anyone print and modify it."
Is the OUYA platform truly open? As it stands now, OUYA is a closed ecosystem that doesn't support Google Play apps. That means all Android games purchased through Google's storefront will need to be purchased again through OUYA's own market. It's unknown at this point if OUYA owners will be able to side-load Amazon's Android-based Appstore… which is what you have to do on Android devices anyway unless it's a Kindle Fire tablet.
Still, if side-loading is possible, there's speculation that games supporting the Xperia PLAY and the two MOGA Android controllers should work to some degree with the OUYA controller. We'll find out this June.