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GTC 2013: Retail OUYA Android Console Reveal Next Week

OUYA CEO and founder Julie Uhrman said that the consumer version of the upcoming Android console will be revealed next week. She even showed the finished product on Tuesday to attendees of Nvidia's GTC 2013 conference in San Jose.

During her 30 minute session, Uhrman revealed why the team developed its upcoming Tegra 3-powered OUYA console: to bring innovation back to gaming on the TV.

"We believe the television is the best screen for games," she told developers, the press and other attendees. "The reason we chose Android is because we really wanted to lower or remove all the barriers that game developers were facing when trying to bring content to the television."

Historically, a game creator needed to be a publisher or a developer working for a publisher. They needed to spend tens of thousands of dollars to get the required tools to build a game, and then if successful getting it launched on a console, cough up a significant amount of marketing to get that game seen. As a result, there are fewer and fewer content creators making games on consoles, thus resulting in sequels and franchise spinoffs.

Mobile has removed those barriers, she said. Any content creator can bring their goods to a tablet or smartphone. That idea led to the creation of OUYA, a super-simple Android console, and a delivery system that's similar to what's offered on mobile devices. Even more, many games need to be free-to-try because, as pointed out in another session at GTC 2013, that's the most popular method of app deployment.

But that's seemingly true with any gaming platform. Consumers like to test-drive software before sinking a load of money into a purchase. On mobile, it's more common to see "demos" because there's less to lose for developers if the consumer doesn't take the bait. On consoles, there's a lot more at stake on a financial level as she pointed out.

Moving on, she went on to talk about actually developing OUYA, saying that one of the big hurdles was to create an Android console without a touchscreen for $99 USD. The graphics had to be "close to great", she said, and the performance admirable when compared to other consoles connected to the TV. So how do you do that? The answer, she said, was Nvidia.

"Nvidia is a long supporter of games, and game makers," Uhrman said. "They make a phenomenal chip. We looked at the high-end tablets and they were pushing the envelope from a performance perspective. And if you're not the 10-percent hardest core gamer, that experience is good enough. It's a great experience. We felt confident that if we could partner with Nvidia and use a chip that was great on other devices, then bring it to the television, we would have a winning formula."

By choosing Tegra 3, the OUYA team bypassed years of research and development, and saved millions of dollars. There are also games currently available that's optimized for that chipset like Horn, The Conduit HD, Shadowgun and many more. Unfortunately, OUYA doesn't support Google Play, meaning that games purchased for a Tegra 3 tablet will need to be purchased again through OUYA's own storefront.

The final build of the console making an appearance next week will be identical to the developer version on a hardware level, but will sport a different color material finish consisting of aluminum and plastic. "We added a fan so that we could really get all four cores running to get it at 60 frames per second," she added. "But the fan is so quiet, it doesn't really matter."

She also took a shot as Sony, saying that the controller sports a touch pad which was added before "the PS4 was innovative." Still, despite all the talk about the hardware, Uhrman said that at the end of the day, OUYA is creating a new gaming ecosystem.

"It doesn't matter how beautiful [the console] is, or how inexpensive it is. If there's not great content on it, you're not going to buy it. The real work for OUYA is really about building this great gaming ecosystem where you'll want to go to OUYA to play a game you can't find anywhere else, to play a version of a game that offers something unique and great that isn't available on another platform."

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