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frankspin

Android home gaming consoles are pretty cheap, but are you buying them?

First we had the Ouya, then came the GameStick, and now Mad Catz is letting the world know they're ready to deliver their Android console. Each one is trying to deliver a very similar experience, a cheap way of playing games on your TV. While Ouya may not use the Play Store, both GameStick and the MOJO are giving you access to Play store and its games. Ouya and GameStick are relatively inexpensive ($99 and $79) while the MOJO is a bit pricier at $250; though it should be pointed out that Mad Catz alluded to PC streaming but has since removed the mention from their site.

As of today only the Ouya has made it to people's households and the reception hasn't been great. Given the continued delays behind the GameStick and "premium" price of the MOJO, will both of them also sell high but under deliver?

They're far cheaper than an Xbox One or PS4, and if we use the MOJO's pricing it's dead even with the Wii U. All of these consoles not only will be bringing new games to the consoles but they already have a long established list of great software titles. For as far as Android has come it still isn't delivering on titles that can rank up there with some of the titles on these devices, let alone something like the 3DS. Even if you take the Wii U at its current state they at least give you the Virtual Store and Wii emulator mode for some of the back catalog.

There are certainly benefits to affordable devices like this, mainly they allow for a family to give their son or daughter a console on the cheap. The concern comes in a less than stellar delivery (as of right now the Ouya isn't looking hot) and weak game catalog; yes Android has a huge range games but how many tower defense games can one take (same with iOS)?

I just don't see these surviving too long, no matter how affordable they become.

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13 replies
groovechicken

I have to say... I have been a video game nerd since the Atari 2600 and have owned a good number of the consoles along the way, but I just can't get excited about these. I have an academic interest in them as potentially hackable Android devices, but not as gaming devices. Sure, they can make interesting emulator boxes, but don't we already have a hundred different ways to play emulators at this point? For the money I would have spent on one of these, I recently purchased my first used PS2, extra controllers, and a stack of PS1 and PS2 RPGs that are way better than anything I can buy through the Play Store. I think Android has a long way to go before it makes a compelling platform for gaming.

Perhaps I will change my tune when the Firefly MMORPG comes out.
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frankspin

Sure, they can make interesting emulator boxes, but don't we already have a hundred different ways to play emulators at this point?

This is something I see come up a lot when they're discussed (XBMC or Plex clients too) but like you said we already have a half-dozen ways to do any of these things. Keeping an emulator collection sounds cool (I did it with my Wii) but what is the frequency you're going to turn to that over another game? I'd wager to say its low. I feel like these tend to cater to the "If I can do it, why not" type of crowd.
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groovechicken

Sure, although I would rather play Gunstar Heroes for the Sega Genesis than almost any other game most of the time, and I haven't found a valid way of doing that yet outside of emulation or owning the original cartridge. :)
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kris

The M.O.J.O. has:
  • Pure Android, so you have full access to all games in the Google Play store.
  • A real controller, the C.T.R.L.R. Mad Catz used to be known as a purveyor of crappy peripherals, but now they make decent controllers and mice (including one of our Must-haves).
The M.O.J.O doesn't have:
  • A competitive price point. $250 versus two competing systems that are under $100? You can even buy a top-of-the-line cell phone for less (on contract, of course).
  • A library of titles built for it. The best mobile games are games built for a small touch screen. Mobile games that work for a console probably originated on a console and are probably also available for competing platforms like PlayStation or Xbox.
Right now you're right: price is going to kill the M.O.J.O. But if they do somehow lower it, I could see a market for people whose kids want to play popular mobile games but can't be trusted with a smartphone. There's also the possibility of developers building games specifically for an Android console, due to the low barrier of entry compared to PlayStation and Xbox.
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dave

Initially, I had thought that this issue was due to lack of proper APIs to support all the different third-party controller / gamepad schemes that are on the market.

Upon further research, it looks like Android had support for gamepads baked in before Apple. (Available as of Android 3.1 vs. iOS 7: developer.android.com­/about­/versions­/android­-3.1.h... )

So, I'll be honest -- I'm really not sure why these consoles aren't taking off. There's definitely a decent selection of high quality games in the Android market (though not everything has baked in gamepad support and maybe this is an issue).

That said, I do think mobile games have some sort of stigma attached to them and they have a specific style of game play (e.g., all these games are engineered to work specifically by touch). Plus, they generally don't seem to feel as epic or serious as a more traditional types of gaming platforms.

I guess it's one of those chicken and egg problems. Maybe people will start buying these once they feel that game developers take them more seriously?
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dave

An additional thought that I had: maybe there's also too much of a moving target with regard to the hardware inside these consoles? Developers know that the Xbox One or PS4 are coming out and going to have stable / static hardware specs for the next 5 - 10 years.

With these, mobile / portable hardware is becoming so much more powerful so much faster that once you start developing a game for this type of console, the hardware will potentially be obsolete in about 6 months.
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frankspin

I think the bigger issue was save states but now Google allows that, they just have to enable it.
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JackFrost1

I find this article premature. The only Micro console on the market is the Ouya , and that has only been on sale for around 2 months. Still, it's sales have been close to the Wii U from the few figures I've seen.

IF your going to crystal ball this category, then I think there are positive signs. People are tired of paying big dollars for not just the console but more importantly games. $60 a game is the core issue here - that's what this is really about. These Android microconsoles allow you to purchase games for a 1/10 the normal cost - soley due to the Android market place and sales being so huge. 1/10th the price is always going to be appealing.

Looking forward to next 5 years, SOC's are going to continue on their meteoric performance rise. In 5 years time , I wonder just how a SOC will compare in power to a XBone - thats when things will really shake up.
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frankspin

I think the idea of trying bring cheaper gaming to the home is a good one, I just don't know if Android is the right platform. Now that NVIDA has said they will work harder on Linux support I wonder if micro consoles like this could take off with some kind of Steam front-end. They wont be able to play AAA titles but they could provide a cheap way to get access to the Steam library which I personally feel has far better titles than Android does.
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cjtylr

The only version of this living strategy that would get me to bite is a streaming box. I don't have too much desire to play mobile games on my TV. I want to play regular games on my TV and mobile games on my phone/tablet. I'd like to see a console the size of the Ouya that streams my Steam library, for instance.

That's probably a long way off, but with products like the Nvidia Shield finding a way to do it, I hope it's sooner rather than later.
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valascia

There will be a small market for these consoles. For gamers who remember playing on an Atari, NES, or a beat on Street Fighter Machine the games these offer (even aside from emulation though that is a big draw) will pique their interest and may hold their attention for a while. I know I have been playing my Ouya far more than my 360 over the last couple of months. I find many of these games beyond the current crop of AAA titles when it comes to creativity and originality.
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LonelyBob

I did, got an Ouya, Towerfall alone is worth the purchase of the system in my opinion. Great classic (local) multi-player gaming that I haven't done since the SNES days.
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valascia

That's my point of you remember or miss those games this thing is great. Again it is a unique market.
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speckledapple

I do not believe they are compelling enough devices to take interest in quite yet. It has to be more than just a factor of being cheap. There have been many examples of consoles being created that were cheap. But none of them really made it. There has to be enough in the console to make it work as well as enough people willing to try it out. Android does not offer that compelling format for console intense gaming quite yet. Will it ever, who knows but not now.
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