The Ouya’s Role in the Console War: Consumer Trust Above All

The Ouya represents what the next generation of consumer trust should look like.
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Today the Ouya is released to the public for the low price of $99 USD. With all the hubbub at E3 about the PS4 and Xbox One, where does this small open-source console fit? The console war rages on, and the Ouya might be more of a contender than you think.

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Is the Ouya even relevant?

This is a question I hear a lot. The answer? Absolutely. The Ouya is a next generation console. Most gamers pass it off as an interesting device, and dismiss it as nowhere near a contender in the console war. You are probably doing the same as you read this. This is so because it supposedly lacks a few key ingredients: power, size, and exclusives.

These are three elements of a console that have been absolutely essential in the past console wars. However, the past is the past. This is a next-gen console war. This new generation, as we’ve been seeing from the dramatic E3 conferences and Microsoft’s repeal of DRM policy, is about something else. The Ouya might not have those key ingredients, but how necessary are they this time around?

This console war is about consumer trust.

The biggest point Sony made against the Xbox One was the ability to share games. The PS4 oozed respect for the consumer… Well, until the Xbox One’s policy was reversed. Now questionable policies are coming out of the woodwork for both as they try to one-up each other. Both front-runner consoles are vying for the position of the most flexible and trusting console. Which company respects its consumer more, which console allows the gamer the most gaming freedom?

You might hate to hear it, but the Ouya trumps them both.

The Ouya is built on the free and open-source model. Not free as in “free beer,” but free as in “free speech.” If you take a few seconds to click over to the Discover section of the Ouya website, you’ll find out all you need to know:

  • Every game is free to try before you buy.
  • The console currently has 174 titles on launch day.
  • Because of the Android platform, apps are being developed to mirror all the features of PS4 and Xbox One.
  • The Ouya comes with permission-to-mod and screams “Please hack me!”
  • Developer tools are free with purchase of the console.
  • Ouya retails for hundreds of dollars less than other consoles.

I want to highlight that first point again: every game is free to try before you buy. As you can see from this list, Ouya trusts its users. It trusts developers to use the system intelligently and gamers to be responsible consumers. 

The Ouya doesn’t just cater to the open-source niche, it should appeal to every gamer who is sick and tired of the big-console nonsense. Plus, at such a cheap price and small size, it seems like a very attractive package for students (a massive section of gamers). The $100 Ouya is also an appealing purchase for parents not willing to shell out for the $400 or $500 base price on a console for their kids. Hell, even if you go and buy one of the more expensive consoles, you can probably afford to pick up an Ouya as well.

There are really only two downsides: a lack of AAA/exclusive titles and the fact piracy will likely be rampant on the system. The Ouya is something else, something “Other” in terms of the console war. But it is still a next-gen console, with next-gen policy and represents what the next generation of consumer trust should look like.

“We are aiming to create an incredible product that is used by as many people as want it — which is another way of saying, we’re not trying to take anyone on, instead, we’re bringing a new way of thinking to an existing business. We’re doing our own thing.” – Julie Uhrman, Founder of Ouya.  

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