One of the biggest questions swirling around the Kickstarter-funded Ouya console is whether the device would be able to build an adequate game library. Ouya explicitly eschews the vendor lockdown imposed by Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, in favor of a hackable architecture. You're encouraged to buy the product, take it home, and modify it to your heart's content -- and therein lies the problem. Publishers are notoriously wary of piracy, and Ouya
is designed for the kinds of modifications that make piracy a cinch.
Today, the cloud gaming service OnLive answered a substantial portion of that question. The company's announcement reads:
OUYA is rethinking the console business, making waves by using standard technology to make gaming for your living room accessible, affordable and more innovative than ever. In OnLive's case, we pioneered a groundbreaking, cloud-based system that instantly delivers games to any device on demand.
We are pleased to announce that OnLive will be available on OUYA at launch, extending and building on our commitment to make the best games available to everyone, everywhere.
That means demos, cross-platform play, and support from the full library of OnLive products. Streaming makes the question of whether Ouya's hardware is powerful enough for the task irrelevant, cloud servers handle all the heavy lifting. You'll need a fast Internet connection to play, but reports and reviews on the service have been generally positive.
This is an important announcement for anyone concerned about whether or not Ouya would have a route to broad acceptability. OnLive is just one of the services and features teh console's developers want to offer, but it's an important feature for anyone who wants to keep access to the latest games. Titles streamed via OnLive often take a graphics hit compared to playing the game from home, but the quality dip is typically fairly small (and if you care about graphics, you really ought to be playing on a PC anyway).
This could signal a shift in OnLive's strategy -- to date, the company has offered a streaming service for PCs as well as its own diminutive console. A partnership with Ouya could see OnLive's functionality integrated into the former's console -- the two items target the same $99 price point.