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Ouya launching new Android-powered game console

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(Credit: Ouya)

Kickstarter is already a haven for independent game developers to find backing for their projects.

Now a new tech-savvy group is hoping the community is willing to back an entire game console.

Ouya is an Android-based console gaming system that, if it makes it to retail, will sell for under $100, according to the company. Roughly the size of a Rubik's Cube, it will use traditional game controllers (which come with a touchpad as well as the usual stick and buttons), offer high-definition graphics and will sell all of its games digitally. And, as an incentive for customers, all of the games sold in its app-like store will be required to at least offer a trial portion for free. The individual developers themselves get to decide pricing plans -- microtransactions, subscriptions, etc. -- as well as set the price points per title.

The console will also come packaged with development software, so anyone with game development skills will be able to create new games using Android's open source software.  In other words, it's "built to be hacked," says the company.

"We don't think the console makers are dead," Ouya founder Julie Uhrman told game site Kotaku. "We just think it's time to rethink how they do their business. We don't like it when people pay $60 for a game and feel cheated. We don't like it when developers can't work on a platform because it's too expensive."

[Related: Why the end of the $60 video game is near]

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Ouya console (Credit: Ouya)

While the name might be unfamiliar, Ouya's backers, who include the chief creative officer at Jambox and the co-founder of Interplay, are hoping to make it as familiar as the Xbox, PlayStation and Wii.

The gaming highway, of course, is scattered with consoles that dreamed of hitting it big only to flop at retail, but none have ever made their appeal directly to gamers. Rather than relying on venture capital and focus groups, the team behind Ouya is letting the community decide if it's interested in the system via Kickstarter.

So far, it's off to a wildly impressive start. Ouya set an aggressive $950,000 goal to complete development and do initial production runs, a number it hoped to hit by August , or about 30 days. Gamers, however, made sure the full amount was reached in a mere 8 hours.

That support might be, in part, because of the impressive management team behind the project. Founded by Uhrman, who has done stints at Vivendi Universal, IGN and GameFly, the company has the backing of gaming luminaries including Markus "Notch" Persson (creator of Minecraft), Ed Fries (who helped launch Microsoft's Xbox) and Interplay co-founder Brian Fargo. All serve on the board of directors.

Investors in the company include Jawbone founder Hosain Rahman, Digg founder Jay Adelson and Flixster founder Joe Greenstein. Jawbone's Yves Béhar, who designed the wireless Jambox speaker, is overseeing the look of the console and controller.

Going up against video game giants is a risky business, but Ouya might not be a pipe dream, according to at least one industry analyst.

"While it is certainly a bold move to take on the likes of Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft, I think there may be room for another player, particularly at this price point," said Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter in a statement provided by the company. "It's been a long time since a new console was introduced, and it is likely that pricing for consoles will go up. By coming in at a lower price point and challenging the existing pricing model for TV-based games, OUYA could hit a sweet spot with gamers."

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