It looks like everybody wants to make a game console nowadays. Ouya, Gamesick, Shield and Valve’s Piston are a symptom of lack of competition on the game market. The last game generation was a rare one in the sense that it had three consoles competing with each other. A lot of younger people who began their gaming history with the PlayStation/2 think that three consoles is enough for a market. Naturally, this is a load of bull. When we have large competition, we should get proper competition between the consoles.
I must admit that I do not see future in Ouya, Gamestick or in Shield. Nevertheless I wish to keep my options open and review these consoles with as open mind as I can. Even if I find them completely absurd and laughable devices, not giving them any weight would be stupid. After all, nobody really gave the NES or Wii any weight at first, and they became the best selling systems in the history of electronic games.
Let’s start with Ouya. Ouya is built on Android in order to allow all Android programmers to directly step into Ouya’s world. The console’s prototype is a small box, which I can’t find that attractive at all. I really hope it has GameCube level built quality, otherwise it’ll be easy to break and shatter. When building small consoles like this you always need to think of the rare situation where during a cleaning process something goes wrong and the console falls from its designated place.
Ouya promises large range of games from various developers, but none are named or given images of. Borrowing the free-to-play model is a completely stupid choice, as only failing games go for F2P model. Why do you think World of Warcraft is still subscription based? Not only that, but the hardware developers promise that Ouya will bring back the creativity to the game developers. We all already know the same old song; creativity kills the product that needs craftsmanship. Also, it’s promised that we’d be able to watch videos and play music as well.
Ouya’s a dumbed down PC, and not even a proper desktop or laptop computer; it’s a damn downgraded tablet computer. I have a phone from HTC, a Desire S model. I never use it for gaming unless my DS or PSP run put of batteries. I use it check my mail and newest Pixiv pictures and making those phone calls. There’s no reason to even consider buying Ouya when we haven’t seen one single game. I’m actually getting a good amount of 3DO vibes from this console.
Speaking of consoles that really don’t have much going on for them, Gamestick is pretty much the same deal as Ouya. Gamestick has an interesting design that it’s basically an USB stick for HDMI socket. I just wonder how much physical memory that thing will hold, as the size of games has been expanding way too much. The idea is decent, but overall how it looks falls into the same field as many of those controller-console TV games that had pirated NES games in-built.
Ouya and Gamestick both have the same design philosophy to burst open from the closed environment and allow everybody to step in. Much like the last generation mirrored the will to step away from publishers and embrace the digital environment (with varying degrees of success), this generation seems to mirror the wish to step away from the closed environment system; the classical console ideology. However, both Ouya and Gamestick fail to grasp what a game console is and follow the same path that Microsoft, Sony and other companies before them have taken with less desirable results.
I’ll be frank; Valve had an excellent opportunity to make their console look good, even if it was just the prototype. Sure, it might be one of the many prototypes, but I’m certain that none of them had any steampunk or dieselpunk going on. C’mon Valve, embrace your name. Put brass piping in the design, make it look unique and something ornate. Don’t stick with the stainless steel and black/primary colours.
There’s really nothing to say about this one that hasn’t been said before. It’s a PC dedicated to nothing but games. It’s different from Ouya and Gamestick’s philosophy, but then again this is just a Steam-in-a-box. I initially joked about Steam being a digital console, but now they made it into a dumbed down PC much like what Ouya, 360, Ps3 and Gamestick are. I hope that after Valve has released their console, the console market will take this into notice and start playing their cards better and concentrate on the strengths a console offers rather than trying to compete in the endless Red Ocean. Piston won’t really change the market in any direction. People with Steam account most likely will eat it up as soon as possible, and I do believe that there will be new adopters as well, unless the rumours of the prices are right. In that case Valve’s doing the worst decision in their company history, but without any credible information I can’t say a thing.
Then as the last pillar of this post we have NVIDIA’s Project Shield. It’s basically an XBOX controller they added a touchscreen to. Speaking of the controls, Ouya’s controller looks poorly designed and follows the same line of thinking non-Nintendo consoles have been doing, ie. don’t do your own proper research and steal from others. Same goes for this one. Shield looks like a re-built Dreamcast controller, a bastard son of Robocop of sorts.
Oh I need to quote this tasty bit;
Powered by NVIDIA® Tegra® 4, Project SHIELD is made for those who demand amazing gaming experiences. It features precise, tactile controls and the latest version of Android Jelly Bean, giving you the best way to play your favorite Android games.
Translation; it’s the same thing as Ouya and Gamestick, but separated from the TV! You can also play Steam games on it, just like on Piston! The thing is, Project Shield is supposed to stream games from PC. It doesn’t even try to separate itself from the big box, rather it ties itself more down to it! Hahahaha! This has to be one of the worst ways to make a dumbed down PC! Why would I want to go and play PC games on my couch with a console controller when I could sit on my couch and play proper console games? If I want to play PC games on my couch, then I’ll just get that good wireless keyboard and mouse and play from there. I have a decent setup for that too, but I never used it because it’s far more intuitive to play PC games on PC rather on couch. The name really sounds like a Shield against console gaming or something, it’s a completely laughable apparatus.
Overall, while I’m giving all of these new consoles a good amount of chances and possibilities to surprise me in the future, I can’t see them having a dent on console business. They’ll cannibalize the PC market that was already being ripped into two or three parts by the tablet computers. The true console gaming will laugh at these, but the developers who can’t distinguish between arcade, console and computer gaming will be shitting their pants at some point. It’s natural for these consoles to use nothing but digital shops, as they are all about getting rid of the people who hold the leases.
I want two new consoles to be released during next generation that are not from Sony or Microsoft. Sony has stated that the PlayStation platform will expand, but this can mean anything from getting some new additional unnecessary content to the existing consoles or that more PS related hardware will be integrated to other products. PS4 is probable as well, but really a stupid decision. Microsoft will release their multimedia equipment at some point.
What I want to see is some sort of a console that embraces a multiple style of controllers rather than forcing me to use the one and only way from the console developers, and embrace what a console really is; a box you play games with. Nothing more, nothing less. It would be affordable and still manage to do everything the customers want it to do. In the end, if the customer wants to listen to music and watch videos, they have a PC for that. Consoles are their own thing.
But goddamn these people could concentrate on the design more.