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Wednesday
Jun262013

$99 Gaming Console Launches with Free Games

The $99 Ouya gaming console includes a controller, the small console and over 100 free games. (Ouya)(NEW YORK) -- This holiday season Microsoft launches its $499 Xbox One and Sony its $399 Playstation 4. It's a big year for gaming fans and their wallets, especially when you consider that those prices don't include any of the games. But starting this week there is a new, significantly more affordable gaming console on the market, which will sit next to those other hotly anticipated systems on Best Buy and Target shelves later this year.

It's called Ouya. It costs $99 and it's nothing like the other consoles in terms of price, performance and offerings. And that's the point.

"Ouya is a different type of game console. We wanted to bring gaming back to the television by making it accessible to gamers," Julie Uhrman, the founder of Ouya, told ABC News in an interview. "All the games are free to try, and we allow any developer with the creativity and passion to build a game for the television to do so."

Unlike the big clunky Xbox, Wii or Playstation boxes, the Ouya is a small little box, no bigger than other small set top boxes, such as the Apple TV or the Roku. The little vase-shaped device houses the guts of a high-end tablet or smartphone, including an Nvidia quad-core processor and a Wi-Fi radio. There's no CD or Blu-ray drive -- you download the games right to the device.

For $99 you get that box, an HDMI cord to hook it up to your TV and a single, AA-battery-powered controller. Additional controllers will cost $49.95.

The box doesn't only have some of the same parts as your phone, but it also runs the same software as some of those phones. The menus and all the games have been written on top of Google's Android platform. But it's not just a stretched version of the software -- the games and the Ouya software have been created for TVs, Uhrman emphasized.

The whole point of using Android, which is an open platform, was to make Ouya an open console. In fact, the O in Ouya stands for "open." The uya? That stands for fun.

The console launched on Tuesday with more than 160 games, all of which are free to try. "You shouldn't be gouged by paying $60 for a game if you don't even know if you like it," Uhrman says, taking a knock at the high-priced console games out there. The only requirement of game makers when submitting games to the Ouya store is that playing some part of it must be free.

But, no, you won't find Halo or Call of Duty or Madden NFL 13 on Ouya. The new console has attracted a range of game makers with experience making games for the PC and game consoles. It also attracts game makers who have never made a game before.

One game available for the console called Astronaut Rescue was created by a father and his 8-year-old son. "His son broke his leg skiing, and the dad was like you aren't going to sit inside all day long and play games, so they decided to build one," Uhrman said.

Joining games like Astronaut Rescue are some names that are more familiar to people, such as Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog, Final Fantasy and You Don't Know Jack. The lack of well-known titles might be a sticking point for many, but the free options might be all it takes to bring users in, say some experts.

Early reviews of the Ouya knock the system for some software and graphics bugs.

Still Uhrman believes the console, which is already sold out through Amazon for now, offers something very different for a clear purpose. And, of course, there's also that other reason to consider it, Uhrman says: "I mean, it's $99."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio