NEW YORK — Ouya, maker of a bite-sized game console that runs Google's Android operating system, wants to take a bite out the video game triumvirate of Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo.
The console, which went on sale Tuesday for $100, lets players try games for free before buying them, a selling point Ouya (pronounced oo-yah) CEO Julie Uhrman often makes to underscore that gamers who use consoles made by “the big three” can't test games before they spend as much as $60 to purchase them.
“We are definitely disrupting the console market,” Uhrman said. “We offer something different.”
So far, Ouya's pitch seems to be working. The underdog console had sold out on Amazon.com and on Target's website by Tuesday afternoon. It is available at other outlets, including Best Buy and GameStop.
The Ouya game system measures about 3 inches on each side and hooks up to a TV set. The console comes with a single controller. Additional controllers cost $50 each.
There are nearly 180 games available for Ouya, ranging from the likes of “Crazy Cat Lady” to the more established “Final Fantasy III” from Square Enix. There are also some nongaming apps, such as online music service TuneIn Radio.
The games are sold through Ouya's storefront, not Google Play, the app store where people buy games for Android devices. Pricing is left up to individual game developers, with many priced in the single digits.
While you won't find “Grand Theft Auto IV” or the latest “Call of Duty” among the available titles, there are plenty of others from independent developers whose games may never make it onto the dominant consoles, Microsoft's Xbox, Sony's PlayStation and Nintendo's Wii.
“I don't think it's ever really going to challenge the big three, but it offers a lot to the more casual gamer,” said Anthony Yacullo, a self-described “gadget geek” from Lawrenceville, N.J. Like thousands of other gamers and game developers, Yacullo already has an Ouya. He contributed at least $95 to the company through crowdfunding website, Kickstarter.
Still, the new console is unlikely to present a serious challenge to high-end consoles coming out from Sony Corp. and Microsoft Corp. later this year. Ouya lacks recent blockbuster games with high-end graphics. But at a fraction of the price (the Xbox One will cost $500 and the PlayStation 4 will be $400), it appeals to budget-conscious gamers and those looking for an alternative.
Ouya is not the first independent game console to attempt a challenge to the big three console makers. Four years ago, a startup called OnLive launched, offering games streamed over an Internet connection. OnLive's small game consoles went on sale for $99 in 2010, but they never gained broad appeal.