$99 OUYA console coming to retail stores and Amazon this year, custom controllers welcome

$99 OUYA console coming to retail stores and Amazon this year, custom controllers welcome

We’ve expressed skepticism about the upcoming OUYA game console, but the company is making big moves in 2013. The console is coming to a variety of online and physical retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy, GameStop, and Target. You can also pre-order the console directly from the official website. The console and a single controller will run $100, while an extra controller will be sold for $50. The website lists a June delivery date for the consoles, while an interview in the Wall Street Journal claims that units purchased directly through the company will go out in April.

The OUYA is an open console, and developers have already begun to experiment with what it can and can’t do. The Wall Street Journal asked CEO Julie Uhrman about developers and gamers using their own USB controllers. “We are okay with that. One of the promises of being open is you can use what we build for other things,” she said. “But you can create accessories and peripherals for our device as well. At the end of the day, it makes our ecosystem richer.”

The controller that came bundled with the developer kit was unfinished and had a number of flaws, but the design has since been updated. The ability to use existing controllers, or even mice and keyboards, will be a welcome touch to the system’s flexibility.

We’ve talked to a number of developers who are enthusiastic about the system, and being partnered with stores like Target and Best Buy is going to legitimize the console in a big way with consumers who may not already be aware of the console via Kickstarter or the tech press. We’ve also talked to a few teams already working with the hardware, and they described a console that’s more than worth the $100 asking price in terms of features and power.

For the tech-savvy, this is going to be a good buy. The system is powerful enough to do many things, including operate as an inexpensive streaming box for video content, run emulators, or even operate as a basic, inexpensive computer for children once a browser is added.

The expectations for a piece of hardware purchased at a retail store are much different, however, and OUYA is going to have to offer an easy-to-use interface out of the box and a wide variety of games from the jump to keep that market happy. There is already a large Android development community; now it’s just a matter of convincing it to move onto the OUYA console and sell the games via the hardware’s store. Now that the hardware looks mature and ready for sale, that’s going to be the next challenge.

I’ll be in Vegas this week, covering the D.I.C.E. Summit, and I have an interview scheduled with OUYA CEO Julie Uhrman. If you have questions or concerns, let me know so I can bring them up directly. The OUYA is building some strong momentum, and in this case I may be happy to have been proven wrong.