Do you still believe in the dream of the cheap Android-based console? After the Ouya’s lackluster launch the Nvidia Shield’s less-than-stellar adoption rates, do you have it in you to get excited one more time?
Amazon hopes so. dnesday’s Amazon Fire TV announcement sees the retailer enter the Android console market with a set-top box-meets-gaming-device product. But a gaming console is only as good as its games, so what is Amazon offering?
Big names, big games
There’s a surprising amount of big-budget support for the Amazon Fire TV—something the Ouya never quite netted. Developers like Double Fine, TellTale, EA, Ubisoft, 2K have all proffered support for the device, which already puts it in a better position than rival Android-based consoles.
As of now, you can go to Amazon’s Fire TV store section buy TellTale’s critically-acclaimed lking Dead, Ubisoft’s Rayman Fiesta Run, Sega’s Crazy Taxi Sonic the Hedgehog, Double Fine’s The Cave, the mobile version of Minecraft (cket ition).
Add in some independent games like Terraria Electronic Super y, some mobile favorites like Quell Memento Canabalt HD—that’s a damn solid lineup for launch. And to sweeten the deal, Amazon says we’ll see thouss of games on Amazon Fire TV by next month. (There are currently 132.)
There’s also the promise of future exclusives. In the wake of the Fire TV announcement, Kotaku learned that both Far Cry 2 designer Clint Hocking rtal designer Kim Swift have been hired on by Amazon Game Studios. Those are some seriously talented people attached to a studio, though as Kim Swift’s recent Ouya-exclusive game Soul Fjord can attest, names don’t always carry a platform.
Now sure, you could just buy all of the games I listed above on your Android phone, connect a controller (whether through third-party cables or through Bluetooth), play that way. Or you could buy most of those games on your or existing console. Or you could just decide that playing phone games on your TV is not the best idea in the world.
But if you were going to go that route, well, you undoubtedly already have. The Amazon Fire TV is not meant for you. In fact, Amazon’s placement of games as a “bonus” to the set-top box capabilities is ingenious—it gets the box into houses, then casually drapes the offer of games at unsuspecting consumers.
Amazon has co-opted Microsoft’s marketing plan for the Xbox One, pitching this as a TV–games-all-in-one device, except there’s less chance of blowback for Amazon because the Fire TV was never going to be seen as a core gaming device to begin with. A small round of applause for Amazon, if you please.
Of course, we’ll have to see how Amazon’s approach to gaming works once we get our hs on the box for some testing. After all, in the case of the Ouya, the controller turned out to be the device’s Achilles’ heel, turning a middling console into an out–out disaster. ’ll have to test how games work both out of the box with the Fire TV’s remote Amazon’s $40 add-on controller, plus any other Bluetooth controllers we have lying around.
Maybe the dream of the Android-based console is still alive, though. Amazon’s developer support is unprecedented in this space; the trick will be to see how that support translates to the shipping product.