Ouya will start shipping its developer consoles on December 28 to those who had pledged more than $700 during its Kickstarter campaign. The early developer consoles are also available for pre-order ($800) for those that didn't make the pledge on the console's official website. These pre-orders will be shipped in January.

“Of course, when the final consoles ship, every Ouya will be a dev console,” noted Ouya's Jules Kane on the official blog. “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.”

An early version of the Ouya Developer Console

An early version of the Ouya Developer Console

The dev consoles are an early version of the Ouya, and will have controllers designed for testing games. The company is also testing an early version of the Ouya Development Kit (ODK). When the dev consoles ship to game developers, all developers, including those who don't have a dev console, will be able to get their hands on the ODK through a web portal.

Back in November, the company announced through a blog post that Ouya would be shipping with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. The blog post doesn’t give out any more details of the Jelly Bean experience on the $99 console, but it does outline the system’s capabilities. So, game developers can start developing before the dev kits and the SDK for the console are released in December. The post gives a general overview of the game’s hardware, interface, display, payments, software settings, and game art.

Ouya will have a controller that’s similar to a standard gamepad in terms of the number and configuration of action buttons. It will also have a single-touch touchpad that will work like a mousepad does on laptops. The post states that games should use controller buttons for all input. Ouya will not have any back, menu, or volume buttons, but will instead have a system button on the controller, which will bring up a standard pause menu. Ouya will also have a soft keyboard for text input. The controller will be used for entering text with the soft keyboard, though.

The post specifies that on Ouya, developers can’t charge for games to be downloaded. However, developers can include in-app purchases or just give gamers a demo or a couple of levels to play before they’re asked to pay.

It’s also revealed that Ouya is designed to run only one game at a time. This means that there will only be a couple of light services running in the background and the system resources will be available solely for the currently running game.

The Android-based Ouya console has been garnering a lot of attention ever since it managed to raise $8 million on Kickstarter. The console’s manufacturers have also struck a deal with Square Enix to deliver Final Fantasy III as a launch title.

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