This Week On The TC Gadgets Podcast: Tesla, Windows 10, Top Gear, And OUYA

gadgets150730 August is nearly upon us, which means news is slowing.
But that hasn’t stopped car companies from racing away with the news, including Tesla’s introduction of Ludicrous Mode (which we haven’t stopped talking about), and the old Top Gear crew signing with Amazon for a new show. Meanwhile, Microsoft launched Windows 10, and Razer bought OUYA out in an all-cash deal.
This… Read More

TechCrunch » Gadgets

Android Game Console Maker Ouya In Talks To Be Acquired By Razer

ouya We’re hearing that Razer, which creates laptops and other gaming hardware, is in the process of acquiring Kickstarter-backed Android console maker Ouya. TechCrunch couldn’t learn the terms of the deal, which we’ve heard are still in flux, but the acquisition would bring to a close the tale of a very early first-mover in the market of set-top gaming consoles outside of… Read More

TechCrunch » Gadgets

OUYA Founding Team Member And VP Of Product Development Departs


One of OUYA’s founding members, Muffi Ghadiali, has left the company, TechCrunch has learned. Ghadiali was instrumental in helping launch the OUYA on Kickstarter and to the consumer market, and has previous experience working for Lab126 (Amazon’s hush-hush projects division, which birthed the Kindle), HP and Synaptics. A source familiar with Ghadiali’s work told us he was instrumental in the creation of OUYA as a viable consumer product, and one of the most experienced CE experts on the team.

Ghadiali led key teams at OUYA, including those involved in industrial and product design of the hardware; mechanical, electrical and RF engineering, and firmware development. In his past careers, he was responsible for products such as the HP TouchSmart and Media Center PC devices, which made him particularly well suited to his role at OUYA. At Amazon, he was a product manager for Kindle hardware.

OUYA provided the following statement to TechCrunch regarding this change in staffing:

OUYA is focusing more on the next phase of the business and product development. We’ve made some recent changes including the departure of Muffi Ghadiali who was invaluable during the launch of OUYA.  As is to be expected, OUYA is an ever-changing business, and as we continue to grow our needs shift accordingly.

Another side of the story is the reportedly poor performance of the OUYA in the consumer market, however. Early developer sales numbers indicate that software isn’t faring very well on the platform (though we haven’t seen updated figures in a while), and pre-holiday sales with drastic price reductions (which were admittedly temporary) don’t bode well for buyer interest in hardware, either. A well-placed source tells TechCrunch that the decision to leave OUYA was Ghadiali’s own, not the company’s.

OUYA definitely seems to be occupying rocky waters at the moment, but it also says it’s excited about the next phase of its “business and product development.” We’ll stay tuned to see what’s next, but it’s unfortunate to see key early talent making an exit.

TechCrunch » Android

Nvidia Adds Console Mode To Outclass The Ouya, Updates To Android 4.3

Nvidia has updated its Shield Android-based mobile game console to add a host of new features, one of which is very interesting in terms of how it might affect the growing Android-based home game console market. For users, it’s a very nice update that adds a lot of worthwhile functionality, and for Nvidia, it’s reaffirmation that this is a real platform, not just a demonstration device designed to entice OEMs.

Along with the above, this update also adds the official, non-beta release of Shield’s Gamestream PC gameplay streaming service, which plugs into Steam to let users play full PC games on their device streaming at up to 60fps over a local Wi-Fi network. Plus, you can shift full app and game files from the local storage to an external micro SD card, which clears up space, and the Home button now provides access to both recently opened apps and Google Now.

One other new feature available today is ‘Gamepad Mapper,’ which aims to answer the question of what to do with games that don’t support game controllers out of the box. It gets around that by allowing users to go through and manually map touchscreen controls to the Shield’s hardware buttons, d-pad and joysticks, and in fact it does it automatically for many of the top games already available. It’s still not the perfect solution (i.e., all game makers building support for Shield right into their code), but it does make games that would otherwise be completely unplayable, playable.

The Gamestream feature now supports over 50 titles with its official launch (and others unofficially) and feels even more polished than it did the first time I used it. Barring any other considerations around the Shield, the PC streaming is a huge benefit to anyone who finds themselves glued to their PC for hours addicted to new games; being able to take that with you anywhere around the house you want to go is a huge boon.

The other big advantage here is Console Mode, which adds to the basic HDMI-out functionality to turn Shield into a full-fledged living room console. It’s designed to work with partner Nyko’s PlayPad Pro wireless Bluetooth controller specifically, but it should work with any Android Bluetooth controller. The PlayPad Pro was designed in conjunction with Nvidia, however, which makes it more likely to be fully compatible with Tegra-optimized game titles.

Now you can tap the new Console Mode icon to run it on the TV, and also the controller now wakes from sleep when connected to a TV, even if the clamshell is closed. Because of its software support and the way it just works without requiring all that much in terms of additional work on the part of developers, this makes it a very compelling alternative to Ouya. Full 1080p output is coming via an update, and best of all, you can unplug it and take it with you wherever you go, and play without a TV, too. Shield might be $ 200 more than the Ouya, but this new console mode makes it a much better value overall, in my opinion. It’s already my travel console of choice, and really helps those boring nights in hotels on business trips.

TechCrunch » Android

OUYA Launches $1M ‘Free The Games’ Fund, Will Match Kickstarter Funds For OUYA-Bound Games


The OUYA Android gaming console has been met with mixed reviews. The console blew up on Kickstarter, and in the months leading up to its recent release, the hype has turned into slight concern over whether or not developers will build out its game library.

To answer that question, OUYA today announces the $ 1 million Free The Games Fund, which will match the funding amount received by developers on Kickstarter. So, if a developer is building an OUYA game and launches that game on Kickstarter between August 9, 2013 and August 10, 2014, OUYA will match whatever funds are received on the crowd-funding platform between $ 50,000 and $ 250,000.

According to the press release, OUYA currently has over 20,000 registered game developers. That’s up from 12,000 in May, around the time that OUYA closed its $ 15 million funding round.

Here’s the official word from CEO Julie Uhrman in the release:

There are two reasons why OUYA is on retail store shelves today: we had an innovative idea to build an affordable and open game console for the television, and we found fans who supported our idea and provided the funds to make it happen. Since then, we’ve seen dozens of great games launch on Kickstarter, and now we are in the enviable position of being able to give back AND secure the best, exclusive games for OUYA.

OUYA reminds us that some of the console’s most popular games, like Fist of Awesome (I Fight Bears) and Saturday Morning: RPG (Mighty Rabbit Studios), enjoyed their inception on Kickstarter.

Hopefully, the Free The Games Fund will ensure a steady stream of awesome content for OUYA gamers.

The $ 99 OUYA gaming console is available for retail purchase now.

TechCrunch » Gadgets