While the Android-powered Ouya isn't hitting retail until early June, early backers have received their preview units, and some of them don't have very positive things to say about the great open source console hope. That's to be expected as, according to the console maker, the system isn't review-ready yet.
In a statement issued to GamesIndustry late last week, this early preview period is a time of testing and refinement, gathering user feedback in preparation for the June release. But last year's ridiculously successful Kickstarter campaign drawing investments from more than 60,000 backers, several of which are in the business of reviewing pieces of hardware just like this one.
The Verge's David Pierce gave the preview unit a score of 3.5 out of 10, citing just about every concern that kept me from backing the project in the first place.
For $99, everyone who backed Ouya's Kickstarter has unwittingly signed up to beta-test a game console. Alpha-test, even: this is a product with some good ideas and a potentially promising future, but it's a million miles away from something worth spending your money on. Even if the concept is right, the Ouya misses the mark. The controller needs work, the interface is a mess, and have I mentioned there's really nothing to do with the thing? I'm not even sure the concept is right, either: there are plenty of fun Android games, but currently few that work well with a controller and even fewer that look good on your television.
Engadget's Tim Stevens was a bit more optimistic, hopeful that the console will come together into a more viable product in the two months left before release.
So, is the OUYA a revolution in console gaming? No, it isn't — not yet. But it's early days still. As of this writing there are roughly two months until the system launches at retail — time enough, we hope, to flesh out the interface, fix the controller and maybe, just maybe, line up a few new games worth getting really excited about. We'll be back with a full review of that version when it ships.
A skeptical person might look at these reviews and think there's no way in hell the Ouya folks can turn this around in two months. Consider me a skeptical person.
I have no early Ouya unit, so I cannot speak to the content of these reviews. I didn't back the Kickstarter, because I have several pieces of hardware that can do exactly what it does, and when Nvidia releases Project Shield I'll have a more powerful option that streams games to my television from my PC.
Ouya will be sending out review units to the press in May in preparation for the June release. Here's hoping they are magical.