Ouya starts shipping, but it's GameStick that is in the news

[Update: Well this is embarrassing. An hour or two after I wrote this post, but before it was published, Julie Uhrman posted an update to Kickstarter. In it she shares some new info. There are 104 games in the Ouya store as of 11 PM ET last night. XBMC, Flixster and Twitch.TV are also available. Eight thousand developers have registered with Ouya.

And now the less good news. While there's still no info on what order consoles are shipping, she did note it was going to take several weeks to get them all shipped. And, surprise, even if you just want to download free demos of games, you'll have to enter a credit card into the Ouya store. That's a pretty big detail for them have left until this late in the game.

Further, an embargo seems to have lifted because suddenly a bunch of sites have hands-on posts. Picking out two of the better ones, TechCrunch has a nice video interview with Uhrman and Polygon does their usual thorough job previewing the hardware.

Unfortunately I'm in the same boat as the rest of Kickstarter, waiting for the email telling me my unit has shipped.

Now here's my original post, written before the 11 PM deluge of new info!]

Yesterday was the day the $99, Android-based Ouya gaming console started shipping to Kickstarter backers. For the past few months Ouya's Julie Uhrman seemed to be at just about every tech-related event there was, talking up the console, so I expected all kinds of news to be coming out of the company this week.

But things have been surprisingly quiet. The @playouya account tweeted a couple times saying we should keep an eye on our in-boxes, and Ouya issued a press release confirming a June 4th retail launch date, but that's about it. Let's just say I'll feel much better when I start seeing fellow backers talking about getting their consoles. No one really knows if the Ouya is shipping out on a 'first backed, first served' schedule, or by region, or by pledge level, or what. It's too bad Ouya has chosen now to go more or less silent. (Bloomberg did post about the launch but it was mostly a recap story.)

There has been some news coming from other sources. For one, there's been a lot of talk about classic game emulators coming to the console. (For reasons that I don't understand a lot of people seem concerned that there won't be anything to play on Ouya; that Bloomberg piece mentions that 55 games are available now.) If you're a retro-gamer you'll be happy to know that several emulators have already been submitted to the Ouya store.

According to Ed Krassenstein, both NES and N64 emulators have already been submitted to the store and should be ready when our units arrive. He also says a SNES emulator is in the works. TechCrunch adds that emulator dev Robert Broglia says he's working on emulators for Game Boy Advance, Sega Genesis, TG-16, and NeoGeo. TechCrunch also says some kind of x86 Dosbox-ish emulator is coming.

Bottom line, if you're a fan of emulators you should be happy with your Ouya.

GAME (a UK based gaming retailer) has started taking pre-orders for the June launch of Ouya. The price is £99. By the way, when it comes to Ouya "launch" is a dicey term. In some sense the Ouya is 'launching' this week since units are shipping to Kickstarter backers, but Ouya seems to consider June their official launch date. That's when retailers will have the Ouya on store shelves.

The other news is pretty niche. If you have access to a Makerbot Replicator 2, you can print your own Ouya enclosure. Joystiq has more details, but yeah, we're really digging for news at this point.

On the other hand, Ouya rival Playjam is at the Game Developers Conference with their GameStick console, and working hard to make you forget Ouya. They announced a partnership with Pivos to bring XBMC to the GameStick at launch. They've also announced that game retailer GameStop is now an investor and that GameStick will come with two pre-loaded games, Shadowgun and Smash Cops. They also want to remind you that their Android gaming console only costs $79. Finally, plenty of press are also at GDC and getting some hands on time with the GameStick. The Verge has pretty good coverage.

The Game Developers Conference ends today. I assume Ouya is there and I guess it isn't too late for them to make some noise, but it just seems odd that now that the console has started shipping, they'd be so quiet. Maybe they're saving up all their noise for June and the retail launch? In the meantime we Kickstarter backers will just have to wait patiently for news that our consoles have shipped.

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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