Last year one of the smash hits on Kickstarter was the OUYA console, an Android based system that is being developed as a home console. Since then there have been rumors of Valve releasing their own console to move into the home console market, as well as the GameStick, another Android based console being developed and receiving funding. With the sudden influx of new consoles, should Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo be worried?
“OUYA is a powerful, beautifully-designed game console for the TV. It’s priced at $99, and all the games are free-to-try.” This is the lead statement on the OUYA website, and at that price it’s hard to look away. However it is the price that makes me think that this may be a failure for the hardcore market. In all honesty could you ever see Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 ever being put on the system? I definitely can’t, and any EA games being free to try? Yeah, that isn’t happening either. Straight off the bat, two of the biggest markets are gone. Now this may appeal more to the casual gamer, with the PS4 and NextBox being rumored to appear at $350-400, it may seem like a cheaper alternative, which it is, but with only a handful of AAA publishers on board (Square Enix and NAMCO Bandai) this will be heading straight for the Indie market.
With anyone being able to make games for it as well, this is a perfect boon for the Indie market. If you’ve ever fancied making a game, but haven’t known where to start, the OUYA is the perfect way forward. The Game Development kit is free with the console so it will be easy to create a game, and the submission happens in the same way that the Android App submissions happen at the moment on Smart-Phones.
Unless they can secure some more big names for publishers, this is destined to become a console for the Indie fans , which whilst not a bad thing, and some of the games will be exceedingly interesting, it won’t challenge the big boys.
Valve already have created some of the best games for the home consoles, from Half-Life to Portal and Left 4 Dead and with the above mentioned Steam, but is this enough for it to challenge the Big 3? Maybe, but it is the shops that should be far more worried. If Valve create the console with some form of Steam on the system, that could be the death bell for packaged games. With all the games being sold on-line, what could people buy from Game? Points Card? It would be the end for the High Street games retailers.
However it does seem to be the most expensive console coming out, even compared to the PS3 and NextBox, with the price range looking at $499 and above. This will mean that unless you have come into some money recently, this will be out of the price range for most home gamers. Now people will argue that a decent home gaming PC will cost you in the range of £499 and above, part of the reason people buy consoles is because they’re slightly cheaper.
Should the Big 3 be worried? Yes, even with the more expensive price tag, this will be the fiercest competition Sony and Nintendo have faced since Microsoft introduced the Xbox.
The GameStick is still being funded on KickStarter (Until the 1st February 2013) and looking at being released in April. So there is a definite release date, which puts it a step above the rest already and if you pledge now, you can get the console for $69. Another point in its favour, it’s the cheapest so far. Even when it is released in April you can pick it up for just $79.
On the other side of the coin however it is so small, you are most likely going to lose it once you unplug it, as it looks like a memory stick. So with it being so minuscule in design, one of the main thoughts I’ve had is how can it contain the memory to hold the games? I’m going to assume cloud storage or with the console being again Android Based, the game is so minuscule in memory, it is little more than an updated app for smart phones.
Games wise, the main studio that the console has teamed up with Disney, but none of the major AAA studios as of yet. This means that it is going to fall behind the major consoles, as people will want the major games there. However it seems like the console is targeting Indie games. Their small memory usage will be a huge advantage compared to games such as the next Final Fantasy.
Overall I don’t think these will be major problems for the Big 3, as they are targeting a different fan-base to them. The major companies will be targeting the AAA games, the ones filled with spectacle, whereas these 3, with the Android based ones in particular, will be more targeting the casual gamers and fans of Indie titles. The only one that might cause the people at Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo to worry will be the Valve console. Valve seems to create gaming gold with whatever it touches, so that is where the major competition will be.
Will you be picking one of these up? Or will you still be looking towards Microsoft and Sony for the Next Generation.