I was very easily convinced by the pitch that OUYA gave in their kickstarter video, and if I had been a bigger gamer (and more cash to spare), I’d have put down my money to support it. If you don’t know what it is, you should really check out their video below. In a nutshell, they’re trying to revive the difficult-to-enter console gaming industry by creating a new console based on an open platform: Google Android.
Ouya is an idea with lots of promise. And given how they’re not only on-time, but even ahead of schedule, they’ve gotten the execution part right too. I’m personally quite excited to give one a go once Jerrick receives his.
But it got me thinking though:
Why isn’t Google doing this?
Putting everything else aside and just looking at it from a technical perspectice, Ouya is nothing more but an Android device with a big-screen UI and support for hardware controls. Of course, their main success factor is the backing of an experienced and credible team capable of gathering support from great mobile game developers, and a team that appears to know what they’re doing.
Furthermore, Android has already proven itself to be a great open platform for both developers and hardware manufacturers, and Ouya (along with many, many, many, many others) has proven that there is demand for Android to be run on a TV to play games with. Thanks to lack of support from Google, however, everyone is coming up with their own big-screen UI and controller APIs.
That’s not too hard for Google to achieve, isn’t it? I mean…
Google only needs to add 3 things to Android!
That’s right! All Google needs to do is introduce these 3 features in Android:
1. A hardware controller API. This API would have two sides to it: one end is designed for software developers to receive a standard set of hardware events such as “primary joystick up”, “A button” or “Right Trigger”. The other end is designed for hardware manufacturers to send events to. So this API would be some sort of middleware, translating any hardware controller a manufacturer could come up with to standardised events for Android apps (which includes games). Developers (especially game developers) would no longer need to create or decide between several versions of the same app for different devices (Ouya, Gamestick or what have you), while manufacturers won’t have to worry about whether developers would support their platform!
2. A big screen launcher. This launcher would be designed for a hardware controller on a TV screen rather than a touchscreen to launch apps, similar to how Google introduced the “Car Home” launcher for cars a few years back. Manufacturers, of course, could replace that launcher with their own, but having a stock launcher would set a standard for them to meet when it came to TV UIs.
3. Gaming Profile. Achievements and ease of finding friends to play with is what makes Xbox Live really successful and appealing. Apple did a relatively good job with GameCenter. I’m sure Google, with their multi-form-factorness, will do better. They could even power it with Google+! Kill two birds with one stone?
What a world with official Android Gaming support by Google would look like
If Google makes it so easy for developers to make games that run on both touchscreens and hardware controllers, I believe the whole gaming scene would explode. 1 single platform on multiple form factors. You could potentially be playing a multi-player game on the go from your phone with a friend who’s playing on their big-screen TV, or continue a game from phone to TV when you get home!
And think about the different variety of hardware you’ll find for that single gaming platform! In addition to smartphone and tablets, you’ll have dedicated consoles (like the Ouya), to controllers with a built-in screen (like the Nvidia Shield), to perhaps even built into a TV! Imagine what kind of crazy transforming or docking device ASUS could come up with! I mean, people are already attempting it, but if Google made a standard for different control options, developers will jump onboard so much easier!
Also, given the fact that the limiting factor to Android’s power is so often battery life, dedicated hardware like TVs or consoles could potentially have more powerful graphics and computational processors, allowing experiences that could be on par with the Xbox!
What about Google TV?
I personally believe that this strategy would be so much more successful than Google TV as far as getting Google to be in everyone’s TV goes. The problem with Google TV is that despite being built upon Android, it’s really a whole new platform for, manufacturers, developers and worst of all, consumers, resulting in very little success to date.
The strategy I’m suggesting, however, is to make the existing Android capable of running on TVs using a controller. I mean, everyone is familiar with Android today. In fact, Google TV’s current strategy of overlaying powerful Google data on top of TV could even become just another app on Android that they could bundle with Smart TV manufacturers.
This strategy could make Google instantly become the king of gaming platforms and TVs! Something I’m sure Google would really like to become.
Google, you’re the only hope!
I mean, seriously, so so many people have been attempting to do this with Android: Sony Playstation Mobile, Ouya, Nvidia Shield, Gamestick and so many more! But nothing beats the owners of Android themselves doing it officially!
The fastest way for Google to achieve this?
Ouya seems to be doing a good job adding the 3 things I mentioned above onto Android, not to mention the amount of positive press they’re getting. Why not just acquire Ouya and get them to work on the Gaming and TV part of Android? 😉
I blog to create conversation and hear different perspectives. Feel free to share with me why Google should/shouldn’t/could/couldn’t do this!