My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Google Android powers Boxer8's Ouya, PlayJam's GameStick and Nvidia's Project Shield


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Google Android powers Boxer8's Ouya, PlayJam's GameStick and Nvidia's Project Shield

“The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated”

Mark Twain

Smartphones and Tablets are killing off everything as prognosticated in my Geezam blog article entitled “How the Apple iPad killed Ultrabooks, Printing and the Mouse as the World Rediscovers Tablets”, with Android leading the Charge. Folks, this is basically the power of Open Source on Display as Open Source is finally getting its day in the sun.

It’s only fitting that the same thing that heralding the death of these products is fuelling it gradual resurrection from near Dead as in the case of Video Game Consoles as predicted in my Geezam blog article entitled “Console Gaming’s Downfall – Future is up in the Clouds”. I’m of course referring to the Open Source Open Architecture Google Android powered Video Gaming Console Ouya.

Designed by American Game Console Developer Boxer8, they launched their on Kickstarter Campaign for US$900,000 on July 2012 with a simple idea: Bring back Gaming Consoles from near Death to a HDMI capable TV set near you as at a price everyone can afford noted in the article “Game Console Ouya to bring Gaming back to the TV”, published July 10, 2012 6:43 AM PDT by Donna Tam, CNET News.

Smartphones began with Google Android, who stole Apple iPhone’s Thunder. So it’s quite fitting that Gaming Consoles are seeing something of a low cost revival via the development of a US$99 Open Source Gaming Console Ouya by Gaming veteran and Boxer8 Founder Julie Uhrman.

Her Kickstarter campaign to raise funds already had achieved its lofty goal of US$900,000 in less than one day, hitting the stratospheric heights of US$2.5 million on the July 10th 2012 as stated in “Open-source Ouya Gaming platform killing it on Kickstarter”, published July 10, 2012 11:06 PM PDT by Eric Mack, CNET News.

By August 2012, they’d stopped their campaign after achieving a phenomenal US$8.5 million dollars, a strong indication of the level of support an interest in the idea of an Open Source Gaming Console as stated in the article “Ouya Console ends Kickstarter campaign $8.5 million richer”, published August 9, 2012 8:24 AM PDT by Rich Brown, CNET News.

Her company’s business model, curiously enough, is a lot like Apple's App Developer model, with a 70/30 split between Game Developers and Boxer8, the builders of the Open Source Ouya Console. Games are based on the Freemium model as described in my Geezam blog article entitled “Smartphones and Apps – Freemium Games are No. 1”, with ability to try games first before buying them at prices significantly lower than currently is available in the Gaming World.

But more interestingly is the Open Source and Open Architecture part of the Ouya Game Console's design; it built to be modified, both in terms of using Open Source Google Android, which means it's capable of playing Games from the Google Play App Store straight out of the box and then fact that it's easy to physically open up and modify.

Boxer8 Founder Julie Uhrman and her team have now released their US$699 Ouya Dev Console package for those who funded their development from a very successful Kickstarter campaign as noted in “Ouya game Consoles now on their way to Developers”, published December 28, 2012 9:10 AM PST by Lance Whitney, CNET News. The Ouya Dev Console package contains the following goodies:

1.      An official welcome letter
2.      Translucent Ouya Gaming Console
3.      2 translucent controllers with batteries
4.      Power adapter
5.      HDMI cable
6.      Micro-USB cable

The Fully developed Ouya Gaming Console, which reminds me of a much smaller version of the Nintendo GameCube, can be ordered from Ouya Purchase page for US$99, with US$30 for an extra Controller.

Already Ouya’s got competition with yet another Kickstarter funded Google Android powered Gaming Console aptly titled GameStick. GameStick’s Console-in-a-Controller design concept being developed by British Game Console Developer PlayJam and now seeking fund on Kickstarter since January 2013, seems to have more in common with the Raspberry Pi than an actual Gaming Console as reported in “GameStick Portable Gaming Console cruises on Kickstarter”, published January 4, 2013 1:29 PM PST by Eric Mack, CNET News.
Their concept is blessedly simple, as it’s also aimed at making Console Gaming on HDMI capable TV Sets possible. The GameStick, which PlayJam has decided to sell for US$99, consists of a Controller with a Swiss Army knife foldout USB Controlled shaped Gaming Console.

Once removed, it slides into any HDMI (High Definition Media Input) port on any TV and communicates back to the Game Controller via Bluetooth to create a Gaming Console that’s completely wireless and very Portable. Sorta like a USB Stick computer as described in my Geezam blog article entitledFX Tech debuts Cotton Candy – Sweet Android Gingerbread USB Stick Mini PC” and also Kemory’s  Geezam blog article entitled “Turn your TV into a “Smart TV” running Android 4.1”.

The specs are not too shabby either:

1.      Amlogic 8726-MX Processor
2.      Android Jelly Bean OS
3.      1GB DDR3/8GB FLASH Memory
4.      Content Download Manager with cloud storage for games.
5.      802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
6.      Full 1080p HD video decoding
7.      Bluetooth version 4.0
8.      Support for up to four controllers via Bluetooth, namely a three-mode Controller, gamepad, mouse, and keyboard 

The portability and wireless Controller of these Open Source Gaming Consoles nature makes a strong selling point for both Ouya and GameStick. Coupled with the fact that they are powered by Google Android and thus able to play any Google Play App Store Game (albeit not legally!) available via the Cloud, I’m compelled to finally declare that the Gaming Industry is both saved and Screwed. Depending, of course, on whether Nintendo and Sony PlayStation will play nice and port their Games to these Open Source Google Android based Portable Gaming Consoles,

The same resurrecting power of Google Android seems poised to breathe life back not only into Console Gaming but also handheld Gaming, also dying at the hands of the Mobile Computing Revolution, also as predicted in my Geezam blog article entitled “Nintendo and Sony vs Smartphones and Tablets: Post – Portable Gaming Era”.

This as Nvidia’s announced Project Shield at CES 2013 earlier in the First week of January 2013, their first foray into the world of Handheld Gaming World powered by a Quad-Core Tegra 4 Chipset as noted in Kelroy’s Geezam blog article entitled “Nvidia shows off “Project Shield” mobile Gaming Console”.

Nvidia thus represents the first tech heavyweight to throw themselves behind the idea of Developing and Open Source Google Android based Handheld as noted in the article “Nvidia announces own 'Shield' Gaming device at CES”, published January 6, 2013 9:36 PM PST by Jessica Dolcourt, CNET News and “Nvidia’s Shield stole CES, but we aren’t sold yet”, published January 14, 2013, By Ryan Fleming, DigitalTrends

Hopefully the Big Gaming Developers will take heed and design their own Open Source and Open Architecture Gaming Consoles or face accelerated extinction at the hands of these debutantes.

Samsung comes to mind as an example of a company that used Google Android to power itself to meteoric success as noted in the stats from analysts Gartner in  Samsung outdoes Apple 2-to-1 in smartphones; Nokia falters”, published October 26, 2012 5:45 AM PDT by Don Reisinger, CNET News and IDC in “Smartphone sales up 47 percent as Android increases its lead”, published November 14, 2012 3:21 AM PST by Zack Whittaker, CNET News.

Now of course Samsung is making yet another foray by partnering with Intel and rebuilding the MeeGo Project into its own Open Source smartphone and Tablet OS named Tizen as stated in my blog article entitled “Samsung's Tizen, Firefox OS and Ubuntu OS to unseat Google Android by 2015 - How Linux and HTML 5 are Oz the Great and Powerful for Open Source”.

Open Source and HTML5 friendly Firefox OS  and Ubuntu OS are also vying for the hearts and minds of smartphone users, Mobile Handset makers and Telecom Operators, albeit they have to speed up their development cycles and have device ready before year end supported by major low-cost handset makers, such as Huawei. All in a bid for a slice of the App Economy Pie owned by Apple App Store and Google Play App Store and the rapidly growing Mobile Computing market globally.

The same thing is now happening in the Console and Portable Gaming world funded by Kickstarter. The Stand Up Guys (2012) are making Open Source and Open Architecture a $ellebrity (2012) by Kickstarting the design of Console and Portable Gaming systems that are Wireless and Portable. And based on the response on Kickstarter to both of these Projects, it’s exactly what the Gaming Developer and Gaming Community wanted all along.

Apple, where are you with regards to the Development of a USB Stick Computer that’s portable and can play high-end Video Games?
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