January 17, 2013 by khrisgolder
It’s exciting to think there are five upcoming gaming devices that may change the face of gaming forever. These consoles are in effect creating a whole new market: alternative business models, superior portability,and each includes countless opportunities for independent developers. In fact, given their size and scope, these devices can even be dubbed microconsoles.
It’s quite possible these efforts will fail for one reason or another. They could all end up like the fad of cloud computing a few years ago with Onlive and Gaikai. Then again, Microsoft successfully integrated their Cloud save option: a staple for gamers on the go. Regardless of the final outcome, we hope that someone shakes things up a bit, and here are the five video game devices that stand a good chance of doing it.
This is the little console that could. Its Kickstarter campaign took the gaming world by storm last summer when it became one of the most successful ever, with $8.5 million pledged. The promise was simple: a TV gaming console, using the Android operating system — made from relatively inexpensive phone technology — that is completely rootable. There would finally be a console that would remove the restrictive business practices placed by the traditional giant console makers Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft. If this $100 console proves a sales success with the public, it will be ushering in a new age of console games. One where independent game makers are nearly unlimited in games they can release on the console. This would either force the “big three” to radically change their ways or could create a secondary market that functions largely independently.The console has already been released to developers, and should be released to the public as of March of 2013.
Gamestick is a device that boasts a similar spec-sheet to the Ouya, but its producers claim the console is no bigger than a jump drive. In fact, it appears as if the “console” will plug directly into the side of the TV and can actually be nestled in the controller itself. The controller is about the size and shape of the original NES controller. Another Kickstarter project, Gamestick has exceeded its goal of $100k, and is over $350k with a little less than three weeks to go. Ouya, however, still has a massive money advantage. Like Ouya, Gamestick prides itself on having a completely open Android-based system, with all the benefits and problems that is going to bring. The main advantages Gamestick has over the Ouya? The console is purported to sell at $79, which may or may not be enough of a price difference if the console ever makes it to market. The Gamestick however looks as if it would be a breeze to carry around everywhere.
Gamestick is aiming for a console release date of April 2013.
The graphics card manufacturer Nvidia is jumping into the gaming-device fray with a handheld it refers to as Project Shield. The device is very much a unique hybrid in the gaming world: it features the Android OS, a modern console controller, and a flip-screen similar to existing handheld systems. Unlike Ouya and Gamestick, this product is coming from an established company that has had a lot of success in the gaming industry; at least through its graphics card production. Nvidia worked very close with the production team of the Ouya, and the processor powering the Ouya is Nvidia’s own Tegra 3. The processor featured in Project Shield is the Tegra 4, which is purported to have six times the visual output of the Tegra 3. This has prompted some people to speculate that Nvidia conspired to push an inferior product onto the Ouya manufacturers and keep the more powerful chip for its own gaming device. Of course it seems more likely that Ouya wanted to have a console that costs $100 instead of $150. Whatever the case, the Shield demonstration video impressed with its graphics capabilities, seamless integration with Steam, streaming games from PC over a local connection, and Shield’s long battery life. Release date and price have not been disclosed.
The Piston is made by Xi3 with considerable backing from Valve. It will be a PC dedicated to Steam’s big-picture mode, which means it will essentially be a console designed for the living room. The Piston is a device that can fit in the palm of your hand, but packs a mean punch. It is said to feature a quad-core AMD APU, up to 1TB of storage, and is able to run most if not all games available on Steam. The chassis is removable, and it is reportedly very easy to switch out parts as they become obsolete. Xi3 tried to fund its Steam-focused PCs through Kickstarter last year, but it fell well short of its $250k goal with only $160k pledged. If the amounts Xi3 asked for through Kickstarter are any indication, the device will cost between $500 and $600, which is pretty steep for a home console.
Valve’s illusive and rumored home console finally has some credence to its existence. Valve founder Gabe Newell stated that their console will use Linux. It could also use Windows if the user chooses to install it. Newell went on to stress the server capabilities of the Steam Box, going so far as to say that it may be able to serve eight monitors simultaneously and still get great performance.
But Valve is known for two things: superb quality of its products and making fans wait for a very long time. So it is likely we won’t see much of the Stem Box for a while. Valve’s electrical engineer, Ben Krasnow, has stated earlier this month that Valve has “no plans to announce anything in 2013.”