The Ouya (pronounced "ooh ya") is an android based video game console released in 2013. The idea of the console is that every console can essentially be used as a "development console" and thus developers have a much lower barrier to entry than on competing consoles.
The Ouya, likely best-known for its meteoric rise in the Kickstarter space, initially shipped with Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) as its base operating system. Developer consoles shipped in late 2012, and initial retail units began shipping to Kickstarter backers on March 28th, 2013.
In early 2013, Ouya received backing from sellers such as Gamestop and Amazon.
In January 2014, the Ouya team released a new version of the console with minor modifications to the original. For example, the internal storage is now increased to 16GB.
Ouya distributes games through its own Ouya store. Though an Android device, it is not considered compatible with Google's Android ecosystem and owners will not be able to officially play games they've already downloaded from Android's Google Play app store. However, a recipient of one of the early consoles hinted that an Ouya owner could sideload app APK files onto the Ouya storage via USB connection to a PC, and then run those applications from a Settings & Management menu on the Ouya UI. (This activity was not actually shown in the user's YouTube video.)
As of the initial shipping to backers, the lineup of upcoming software included Fez, Wizorb (which is currently available), Broken Age, and some other high-profile titles. (Much of what is available at the outset boasts titles from smaller developers including ports of existing mobile games such as Canabalt HD.) It was also reported that Ouya will support XBMC for streaming media.
There are conflicting messages about the viability of rooting the Ouya. Rooting, similar to jailbreaking iOS devices, is a common practice among advanced owners of Android devices, and Ouya founder Julie Uhrman mentioned that the process would be simple in the effort to make Ouya as open as possible. However, some XDA community members have pointed to a July 2012 radio interview with Uhrman where she mentioned that rooted Ouyas would not be able to access the Ouya Store, making it difficult for players who both want to purchase Ouya games and have the benefit of a rooted system. There seems to be no up-to-date, definitive answer on how the retail unit responds to or supports rooting.
The Ouya UI includes a "Sandbox" category, which is where games that aren't featured in the top tier of games (the "Featured", "Genre" and other categories on the UI's main screen) go. If you like a game in the sandbox, you can give it a "Thumbs Up", and if the title receives enough of these kudos, it may end up in the top tier for a wider audience to see.
One of the more controversial decisions of the software distribution method was that all games were initially required to have a free component. This requirement was only vaguely defined by Ouya themselves and thus they're are several free to play games as well as games that offer a free demo before requiring players to purchase the rest. Some consumers complained that this made it hard to determine which games were which as upon release Ouya's main storefront did not list any price for any games with many gamers finding out that a title was only a demo after they started playing the game. From a developer standpoint, many noted that the lack of actual sales on the marketplace were relatively low when compared with platform's userbase.
Ouya's controller mimics today's standard inputs, with two analog sticks, four face buttons, a d-pad, a Home button, twin shoulder buttons and twin triggers. It also includes a central touch panel, similar to what Sony later announced for the PlayStation 4 controller during its unveiling. It does not include a back button.
The release of the console was somewhat controversial. The system began shipping to developers in late 2012. Because of the design of the console dictated that every console was a development console many press outlets began reviewing the console giving it unfavorable reviews, eventually Julie Uhrman stated that she though the reviews were unfair due to the differences from the eventual consumer model which led to questions as to why seemingly two tiers of the consoles were being release. Units for Kickstarter backers started shipping in the spring of 2013 with the console going on sale to the general public in early summer. However there were problems with some of the backer units particularly the controllers, furthermore many units did not reach backers in a timely manner with a few not reaching backers until after the retail release.
In June 2015, it was leaked on MESA Global's website that they acted as exclusive financial advisor to OUYA in its sale to Razer, Inc. On July 27 of the same year, Razer officially announced the acquisition. Hardware assets were not a part of this purchase, and only personnel and software were acquired. Both assets were then focused on a storefront platform for Razer's own Forge TV console, dubbed "Cortex". In a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" topic, Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan stated that they would be "keeping the lights on for the next 12 months or so for the software services" for the OUYA out of goodwill towards its install base, and their director of sales stated that "[they're] looking at a variety of options to ensure that your OUYA doesn't become a high-tech paperweight."
Some developers continued to produce games and content for the OUYA following the shutdown of its submission service by way of offering their product on other sites and encouraging "side loading" of the games.