Amazon is ready to take on the living room with its Android-based Fire TV game-playing set-top box, but the makers of that other Android-based microconsole on the market aren’t panicking.
Last year, Ouya launched a $100 device that enables gamers to play small indie titles and rejiggered mobile releases on a television. The Ouya system hasn’t exactly taken off, and now it faces a behemoth of a challenger in Amazon’s Fire TV. That microconsole, which is available now for $100 (and an extra $40 for the game controller), features a quad-core processor, 2GB RAM, and a dedicated GPU. For comparison, the Fire TV is as powerful as the latest high-end Android and iOS devices while Ouya has the same innards as the original 2012 Nexus 7 tablet. Despite that, Ouya chief executive Julie Uhrman isn’t letting the Fire TV bother her because she says her company is focused on games … even though Ouya has no first-party software.
“This news doesn’t change our plans or the way we work,” Uhrman told GamesBeat. “We continue to be focused on bringing the best quality product to market when it’s ready.”
So, when is the next Ouya ready? She isn’t saying. The company did recently announce it’s working with other hardware vendors (so far only game-peripheral maker Mad Catz) to bring the Ouya Discover store to other platforms. Mad Catz’s M.O.J.O. has an upgraded Tegra 4 processor, which is likely just as capable as Amazon’s device — only M.O.J.O. costs $200, not $100 as the Fire does.
We also asked Uhrman if the Ouya team was worried about Fire TV.
“Not at all. In fact, we see Amazon Fire TV as great validation for what we’ve been working on for more than two years now,” she said. “Just as Amazon blazed a trail for a new way of selling online, OUYA invented a new way to think about console games.”
She did point out that Amazon is seemingly treating games as an afterthought. When the online megaretailer introduced the Fire TV yesterday, it focused on its video and media capabilities upfront.
“But for us, games are not simply an ‘added bonus’ — they’re the whole point,” said Uhrman. “Ouya is solely dedicated to the devs creating games and the players who play them. Their ideal experience is all we think about.”
While Amazon might treat games on Fire TV as an afterthought, it is still investing heavily in them. The company has bulked up its Amazon Game Studios division, which is its internal first-party development team. Yesterday, it hired veterans of the Portal and Splinter Cell franchises to join a crew of industry veterans who are already working on a number of games exclusively for the set-top box. Ouya, on the other hand, has never announced any first-party development.
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