Ouya, the company behind the Android-based console of the same name, has announced that it will begin shipping dev kits on December the 28th, meeting its first promised deadline since raising over $8.5 million on Kickstarter.
The dev kits should arrive at the doors of developers who back the console a couple of days later, and Ouya plans to have the console’s SDK available online around the same time. They’ll also be surprise for early backers, it turns out.
“Of course, when the final consoles ship, every Ouya will be a dev console. We told you that already,” the official blog post reads. ” What we didn’t tell you was that the advance dev consoles you ordered are pretty special – you’ll know what I mean when you open yours. They’re rare drops.”
The post also reveals that the company has dedicated a team to optimising the console’s UI, tweaking Android Jelly Bean for big-screen gaming and ensuring a powerful search engine.
The dev kit announcement represents a major milestone in the Ouya’s journey to market, and, of course, brings us one step closer to a world in which a crowd-funded console can weigh in with the big three. On Friday it was announced that the other high-profile Kickstarter hardware project, virtual reality headset Oculus Rift, will miss its promised December deadline for SDK delivery. It’s not, however, a reason to be concerned about the health of the project, according to Rift creator Palmer Lucky, who says the three month delay is actually down to its unexpected popularity.
“Designing, sourcing, and manufacturing thousands of developer kits is no small feat,” he writes in a major Kickstarter update, which also includes images of the latest working headset prototype and detailed specifications. “Since our Kickstarter, we’ve been up against the wall, working around the clock to produce and distribute over 7,500 units in just four short, crazy months. We’ve had to modify our original design for mass-manufacturing and, at the same time, balance additional features with our tight schedule.”
Despite the overwhelming support these projects have received, both remain high-risk propositions which may yet falter. But if Ouya and Oculus can maintain the momentum they have built, and actually deliver products in-line with their original visions, they will set a powerful new precedent for independent companies in the videogame industry.