OUYA is one of the hottest Android devices to come to fruition lately. The gaming console was able to fund more than 9 times its goal on Kickstarter, proving to be among the most successful start-up projects in the Android ecosystem. What makes it so special is that it promises to bring quality Android games and content to the larger screen. There is one small discrepancy, though. There is already an Android-based platform optimized for TV – Google TV!
Don’t get me wrong, I believe OUYA will be a great device for gamers. I will more than likely purchase one, myself. I just believe the project could have been better handled by using Google TV. Google TV and OUYA are both Android devices. They can run the same apps and games. Any manufacturer can make a Google TV, why couldn’t OUYA just manufacture one that focuses on gaming, instead?
How it could have been handled
Google TV’s limitations for a better gaming experience could have been negated by simply giving the device better specs and a nice gaming controller. Throw in the same Tegra 3 processor (we wish it would have been Tegra 4), along with other superior specs, and you have a device that can run the same games as the OUYA for about the same price.
OUYA could then utilize its very same controller with the Google TV device and ask developers to optimize their games for Google TV/controller.
How OUYA will hurt Google and Google TV
Google is all for letting manufacturers get creative with Android. We understand and support that, as it is one of the main reasons why Android has become the #1 mobile OS in the world. But OUYA is doing something different here. They are not just taking Android to make a different type of device, they are taking Android to make a new platform.
OUYA will have its own apps, its own games, its own partners and its own system. Though these all revolve around Android, they will live with OUYA on a separate plane. Developers have to optimize their content specifically for the OUYA, which means it will be exclusive material (at least in the TV Android gaming world).
Don’t we hate it when we see certain games be exclusive to certain brands or smartphones? All similarly-specced Android devices can handle such games, just like any Google TV would be able to handle a Google TV-optimized app or game. Why is it no one is complaining about what OUYA is doing, which is essentially the same? In fewer words, OUYA is now the perfect example of fragmentation on Android-running TVs.
How an OUYA Google TV would have helped
Of course, OUYA would have given Google TV much more exposure and popularity, but there is much more an OUYA Google TV could have accomplished. In a way, this company would have been the pioneer of “real gaming” on Google TV. With better specs and all the support, Google TV would have grown immensely.
After some time, other manufacturers could have developed their own gaming Google TV devices. Said devices would then be able to use the same apps and games as the OUYA, as they would be optimized for Google TV and a controller, not just one Android device. More options means better products for the consumer, and that is what Android is all about.
Instead, OUYA is locking you down to its own device(s). You won’t be able to just purchase a Non-OUYA branded device and play the same games you purchased from OUYA, even though they are just Android games and apps!
But of course, who can blame OUYA? They did create a great product. Plus, making an equally amazing Google TV with all the support they have received would not pay off as much. Sharing content with the Google TV manufacturers would mean more competition for OUYA, which ultimately means less profit and lower chance of success.
We have seen many comments asking why Google TV is not in devices like the OUYA. It is more complicated than that. You can’t just throw Google TV in an OUYA. They are both fully-powered Android ecosystems. The only way to do it is to replace OUYA’s software with Google TV’s (or maybe dual-boot), which some hacker will probably accomplish, but that would really defeat the purpose of purchasing an OUYA at all.
What would have to be done is build the OUYA to be a Google TV from the start. Then the device will be able to run great TV-optimized games and Google TV at the same time. Sadly, this is many times not the smartest move for a company trying to put itself high in the Android market. This happens to be OUYA’s position, and it is all but guaranteed to succeed where it is. Why would they change strategy?
In part, Google is also to blame. They need to push harder on promoting and improving Google TV. This is an area where they could have taken the lead and destroyed all competition. Simply make, or convince manufacturers to make a Google TV device that can handle games. Then add a good gaming controller, give developers a good incentive to port their games to Google TV and boom. We would have great Google TV gaming consoles for an amazing price.
The future is still unknown, and this could very well be getting planned in some room at Mountain View. It seems unlikely, though. OUYA and Google will probably not change their plans anytime soon, and we will be stuck having to purchase and switch between two devices. I guess we can’t have our cake and eat it too, right?