A big gaming company like Microsoft couldn't be bested for controller polish by a tiny, Kickstart-funded startup, right? Wrong, says OUYA, which has been detailing the tweaks made to its wireless control pads after developer feedback on the palm-sized Android console. Several changes have been made, all intended to refine the experience for gamers and help OUYA play up in the big leagues.
So, gone is the disc D-pad, replaced by a more traditional cross-style that's easier to thumb accurately, while the sticks get a rubberized hat since developers were complaining of undue slipperiness. The triggers are more streamlined into the housing, as well as being mechanically altered for improved feel, while the battery bay has also been reworked to ensure the power pack fits securely without shifting around during more frantic play.
Unlike most controllers, OUYA's has a touchpad for menu navigation, and that's in line for a new finish and more responsiveness. For the moment, OUYA recommends developers set the cursor speed to its maximum for the most immediacy in use.
Controller finessing might sound like an odd thing for OUYA to be spending a disproportionate amount of its time on, but there's good reason for it. Android gaming isn't new, but a common complaint is that the experience of actually playing on an Android games system - whether it be a phone, a tablet, or something else - is distinctly subpar compared to what players are used to from their Xbox, PS3, or something else.
If OUYA wants to be taken seriously, it needs to tick all the right boxes with the one part of the system that players' will come into contact with most often, and that's the controller. If it doesn't feel right, or doesn't work as it should, then gamers simply won't bother picking it up and playing, and that could mean death to the platform.