The current console market has been in about the same state since the 1980's. Nintendo has been making a new system since the Nintendo Entertainment System days, and while names like Atari and Sega have been remembered fondly during history, Microsoft and Sega have carved out little swatches where they now rule and resign in the seventh generation of video game consoles (PC doesn't count...because it's the computer).
While Nintendo tries to get a jump start (again) on the generation market with the Wii U, there is a newcomer to the next generation of game colsoles: Ouya.
Ouya (pronouced oi-yah), which started as a modest idea for a modest $950,000 goal, has exploded into a $8,000,000 concept that will ship in March 2013, but what is so special about it? It's an open-sourced, Android-powered video game console that will be the size of a Rubik's Cube and cost a cool $99.
Open Sourced In a Closed Market
Video game consoles are a huge market now, with huge budgets and huge blockbusters, expecting to serve a huge amount of fans with a huge amount of sales expectations. Just like in music, it's really hard to get noticed with an indie title and make good money on a title, hence why most indie studios go the PC, iOS, or Android route and usually don't succeed on consoles.
(Talk about contradiction: only the big-name indie games usually succeed on the Xbox/PS3 internet market.)
Ouya is open-sourced, using Android's 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" OS, which is used on a lot of Android-based mobile platforms, like the Google Nexus 7, Samsung smartphones and tablets, and any other tablet/smartphone that isn't Apple. The open-sourced part is big, since it allows any user to root the device without voiding the warrenty or breaking some hidden clause in the End User Licence Aggrement. That means nerdy users can customize the OS to do what they please, and even use the open-source of their Ouya system to make their own games, facilitating even more indie games. This comes in contrast to Sony disallowing PS3 users to install Linux on their systems.
Ouya's Android OS also comes with a custom user interface and with the ability to play many games already on Android (such as Angry Birds), since the controller does come with a touchscreen pad on the wireless controller.
Low Cost In The Age of Internet Piracy
Go down to your local Gamestop (or local video game store) and buy yourself a popular first-person shooter or sports game. Chances are that it'll run you up to $60, to play on a console that cost you somewhere $300 to $600 (if you bought it brand new). Even with buying your games and system second-hand, getting a nice library of games will still cost you a pretty penny, and if you are money consious, your gaming will probably fall by the wayside. Or, if you are an PC gamer, your low-cost options, you know, after buying a PC or laptop that can handle playing modern PC games, come at buying your games on Steam or by piracy. And piracy is illegal. Very illegal.
Ouya ships out at $99 and comes with one controller (the cost of a second controller is unknown at this point), and every game will come with a free-to-play version, whether it's a free trial, an ad-laden game, or a free game with paid bonus levels, Ouya will be a great, low-cost option for people who don't want to drain a paycheck or two on a system and games.
Worth the Hype?
With a $8,000,000 worth of pledges from Kickstarter, it's not hard to believe that there are enough people (with checkbooks) that think Ouya will meet expectations. If you read Gameinformer, at least the September 2012 issue, you might have seen pleanty of doubt for the fourth system penetrating the market. (Not really surprising, since they asked enough developers who depend on the current console market for their paychecks.)
However, with a quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of flash memory that will be expandable, and an HDMI connection to your TV, it gets harder to doubt if Ouya won't deliever. The only true concern would be whether Ouya's busneiss model will deliever enough profit (or players) to warrent the games needed to thrive.
So, if you're getting tired of spending the kind of money you need to for console gaming, your potentional salvation will come March 2013. If an open-sourced game console can take off in the video game market, then there will be a lot of changes happening in the future.