Asus has announced that it will be unleashing its own Android console on the gaming world. The Game Box will join several other Android game consoles already on the market as well as others being planned and on the way.
Android software powered 75 percent of all smartphones and 57 percent of all tablets shipped globally in the first quarter of 2013, just one year ago, according to the research firm IDC. Clearly, Android has taken a firm hold on the mobile device market, and now companies want to exploit Android’s open-source platform to create games and game consoles that can compete against video gaming giants like Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.
Asus is one of the most recent players to enter the arena. But with all of the Android consoles already in existence or in their planning stages, do we really need yet another one?
Current Android Game Consoles
You can find quite a few Android game consoles already in use:
- OUYA – A console that has 714 games currently available, as well as apps for streaming TV, movies and music. It also acts as an open dev kit for game developers who want to build video games for its version of the Android platform. (console and controller, $99 8GB, $129 16 GB)
- GameStick – A nontraditional console that connects to your TV’s HDMI port, making it the smallest and most portable Android gaming system on the market. (stick and controller, $79.99)
- GamePop – Uses a subscription service rather than charge for individual games out of its catalog, several hundred games strong. ($129 w/ $6.99/month subscription, Mini is free w/ $6.99/month subscription)
- Nvidia’s Shield – A handheld console that allows users to play titles from both Google Play and Nvidia’s own TegraZone store, plus you can stream from Steam and a PC with the right video card. ($249 on Amazon)
Though none of these consoles have made any kind of noticeable dent in sales of PlayStations or Xboxes, they do have respectable qualities about them that make them stand apart. What Asus will do to make its console stand apart is up for debate.
Other Android Game Consoles in the Future
Asus is only the latest to announce its new Android console when other even larger companies have announced their intentions to do the same.
Amazon is perhaps the biggest future player in the Android console market, and it is slated to be released sometime this year (stalled from its originally planned late-2013 release). The Amazon console will reportedly be priced somewhere under $300, undercutting its biggest competition, Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One, by a fairly significant margin.
It will likely resemble the Kindle in many ways in terms of functionality. This will be particularly in its connection to Amazon Instant Video for both Amazon Prime and non-Prime users, with its thousands of video titles and its likely library of games, the Apps for Android collection, which currently lists 50,000 Android game apps priced anywhere from free to $15. With Amazon’s enormous user base and marketing weight behind the device, it is likely that several games will be released exclusively for this console in the future as well.
The creator of the Android platform, Google, will also reportedly be trying its hand at an Android-based game console. The company has acquired Green Throttle Games, a gaming controller company, which has fueled this rumor most recently, though details themselves are scarce.
Though not running on an Android platform, it is also worthy to note that Apple is rumored to be developing an iOS game console that will possibly be released along with a new version of Apple TV. This doesn’t crowd the Android game console market any more, but it will affect the video gaming industry, and possibly take away users from Android game consoles, if it becomes a big seller.
If Asus plans to enter an already crowded console arena, it needs to put its best foot forward and come up with something truly revolutionary that appeals to the wants and needs of gamers. If not, it will fall out of sight, out of mind and be an utter waste of time for the mainly PC-oriented company. Between Asus’ current and future competition, we will have to keep an eye out for what may come in the Android game console market.