We all know that the Ouya thinks buying games makes you vomit, which may explain its struggles to actually sell games. But it’s not the only “microconsole” based on Android trying to get your attention.
Here are the three that we know about, plus some analysis and some information. Don’t assume they’re all the Ouya, either: There are some interesting ideas here.
At $79, the GameStick is essentially aiming for stocking-stuffer status. It’s essentially a stick computer that folds into its controller; the idea is that you stick it in your pocket and take it anywhere.
The developer, Playjam, has actually done pretty well with Android-based set-top boxes, so if nothing else, they’ve got the experience. It also lets you actually buy games directly… which is good since it’s got ground to make up: It was hit with some pretty serious delays that meant its April release to backers was pushed to this month. Also, it’s got a lower starting install base than the Ouya, and that’s… not promising.
GamePop tries to get around the whole “users not buying games” problem by forcing you to subscribe to a $7 a month service that streams games to the box, which costs $130. So essentially it’s a cross between the Ouya and OnLive. It’ll be coming this winter, but we’re not sure how the subscription model will go over.
MadCatz just stops screwing around and does what a lot of people have wanted to see from the start: A high-end box that connects directly to Google Play and Amazon app stores. No storefronts, no BS, just buy your games. The main problem is that this is a high-end box: Essentially it’s going to be an NVidia Shield without the screen, so this could easily run $200 or more. You know, the price of a current-gen game console.
Also, the total lack of a QA process to tie controller to game might be frustrating to many users. It tripped up the NVidia Shield, and the whole process could use some work.
Can Any Of Them Succeed?
Possibly, but it’s going to take some work. The main problem is really the games: There’s no good reason, right now, to drop $80 to $200 on a console that doesn’t really have any games for it, especially if you just dropped $200 on a tablet. Honestly, whoever manages to crack the controller synchronization issue will probably be the winner. Or the entire market segment will be like a whole host of other embarrassing fads in video games we make fun of in ten years. Right now? It’s kinda fifty-fifty.