If you’re under the impression that Android is just for smartphones and tablets, think again. According to The Wall Street Journal, Google is working on its own video game console powered by Android, which would go head-to-head with the next Apple TV. The device could also spell serious trouble for the Kickstarter-funded Ouya.
The newly launched Ouya, now available at Best Buy, GameStop, Target and Amazon, is a $99 set-top box powered by a Nvidia quad-core processor running Android. The most alluring aspect for gamers is the idea that players can try out games for free before purchasing them. However, one analyst says Ouya likely won’t survive against Google in the gaming space.
“The problem is, if Google decides it wants to big and bring the full weight of its capabilities to bear, the Ouya is going to be facing a very large uphill battle,” said Scott Steinberg, CEO and lead analyst at technology and video game industry consulting firm TechSavvy. “Even if it takes Google a year or two to bring the console to market, the Ouya needs to hit hard and hit fast, and it needs to score a resounding blow.”
Being the source behind Android, Google already has a solid foundation of developer relationships and can promote its gaming console alongside its established Google Play store and services. It has the ability to reach a mass audience, not just gamers, as Steinberg notes.
“Google will do everything in its power to leverage its weight,” Steinberg said. “Maybe it won’t be a first round knockout [against Ouya or competitors], but it’ll see the battle through and make sure there’s a TKO in the end.”
There’s no doubt that the Ouya has garnered some attention in the gaming community, potentially representing a new wave of mainstream gaming that brings mobile titles to bigger screens. The Ouya raised more than $8 million on Kickstarter without a hitch, and sold out in GameStop and Amazon following its launch.
Despite this popularity, the console may have to work outs its kinks before becoming a big hit. Early reviews of the system have been lukewarm thus far, with critics lambasting its sluggish game performance with certain titles and mediocre controller.
When it comes to competing with Google, it also remains unclear if the upstart can compete with the company’s extensive resources and funding.
“For a big and sprawling company, a console is just a drop in the bucket,” Steinberg said. “Whereas for Ouya, as a startup, it’s a race against time.”
The Journal’s sources also mentioned that Google plans to re-launch its ill-fated Nexus Q, which was unveiled at Google I/O 2012. The orb-shaped device allows users to stream media from mobile devices to nearby speakers and TVs, but was quickly yanked from the market.
Although rumors suggest the Nexus Q could make a comeback, Google isn’t likely to re-brand it as a gaming device, according to Steinberg. “I think they would go big with branding on the console,” Steinberg said, “giving the product its own identity.”