A new startup is embracing the openness of mobile and Internet platforms and developing Ouya, a $99 gaming console for the television with software and hardware that is designed to be hacked. The device will include a controller with a touch pad and a free software development kit.
"The current console market is closed, it’s expensive to develop and it’s expensive to buy games," Julie Uhrman, a former executive at video game website IGN, said. "And we really wanted to turn that idea on its head by creating an open game console where it was inexpensive and affordable for gamers both on console side and game side."
The team hopes Ouya will bring innovation to the good old video game console by attracting “indie” or independent game developers and makers of Triple-A game titles in a bid to capture the imagination of casual and core gamers alike.
Moreover, all the games will be free-to-try. That means developers can pick any plan to monetize their offerings like micro-transactions through sales of virtual goods or subscriptions, as long the gamer can try the game at first for free.
Angry Birds maker Rovio Entertainment said sales jumped tenfold to $100 million last year as gamers flocked to download its titles, adding business was now strong enough for a stock market listing.
The Finnish startup making Angry Birds games — in which players use a slingshot to attack pigs who steal the birds’ eggs — has been valued by analysts at up to $9 billion, just short of that of struggling world No.2 phonemaker Nokia.
Rovio said on Monday its finances were good enough for a listing after revealing a highly profitable 2011 in its first public disclosure of business results and forecast a bumper year ahead.
Rovio, originally founded in 2003, became a global phenomenon after it launched Angry Birds for Apple’s iPhone in late 2009.
READ MORE: Angry Birds maker eyes IPO golden egg
The Middle East has one of the fastest growing communities of online gamers in the world, and demographics mean this is likely to remain true for many years.
About 60 percent of the 350 million people in the Arab world are younger than 25, with internet penetration in the region at about 70 million users — over 300 percent growth in the last five years, according to numbers from United Arab Emirates-based entrepreneurship research portal Sindibad Business. Internet penetration is expected to reach 150 million users by 2015, said the portal’s founder Bahjat Homsi.
Such statistics are encouraging the rise of a small but dynamic video game development industry in the Arab world. At least six Arab game firms, most in Jordan, received funding from local investors in the last two years.