Traditional console gaming is in trouble, and Android is to blame.

by: Nate SwannerJune 22, 2013

The Ouya

Like horses being led to a stable, the latter part of this year will be the starting bell for a gaming race. With the likes of OUYA, Project SHIELD, Project M.O.J.O., Gamestick, XBox One and the Playstation 4 all being readied for wide release, the landscape is changing.

While not all of those consoles listed above are in direct competition with one another, they are just that: consoles. As such, they want to dominate your gaming experience. More to the point, many of them want to dominate your living room. That presents a challenge they’re prepared to face at some point, but they have to navigate past bigger players to truly succeed.

The Android crew

OUYA has done a fantastic job in setting the stage for the rest of the Android gaming crew. It’s just about everything we could hope for; inexpensive, highly portable, and has a physical controller. In assessing our gaming needs, it has the capacity to cover all the bases. It is Android based, meaning we can probably get our favorite “time wasters” on it with ease, but also dedicated to gaming. That should mean it’s good enough to handle larger, more in-depth games without stuttering or failing us.

With so many unproven consoles in Android gaming, developers have no reason to support one over another. Yet.

What OUYA has given us so far is compromise. The build quality is suspect, and it’s been lagging with what many consider rudimentary tasks. The funding is solid, as it annihilated the kickstarter campaign goal set. What stands in the way is what it vowed to us, which may ultimately be too ambitious.

Like the rest of the Android crew, OUYA is promising us a great gaming experience for next to nothing. For many people, $100 is a small investment. Its only real competitor right now is Gamestick, which promises much of the same functionality, but also has many of the same issues. Cheap, promising, but with suspect build quality.

project shield

The wildcard

Project SHIELD from NVIDIA was the surprise darling of CES, mostly because we didn’t see it coming. Never a hint, or a leak, or even a suggestion that NVIDIA was working on a larger scale project. We were taken aback by the hardware, and found the small screen a surprise delight. It’s essentially portable gaming as it should be.

We want quick bursts of fun, dovetailed with some TV and movies.

What SHIELD has over the other Android based platforms is Steam. The popular PC gaming platform is supported by SHIELD, meaning those who would otherwise shy away from portable or Android gaming no longer have to. They can play their games away from the PC, or non-Steam games, which is a big step moving forward. This also represents a market sector the other Android consoles can’t readily get involved in at this time.

M.O.J.O. workin’

Project M.O.J.O. could very well end up the class of Android gaming consoles. Made by Mad Catz, there is a long lineage of device manufacturing involved. Going back to early arcade days, Mad Catz has a history of design and build quality. They also built some specialized arcade-style gaming equipment for the home. If you bought the Street Fighter IV arcade joystick, that was Mad Catz, and they’ve been doing that since the SNES days.

While no pricing or availability have been announced, we can expect the console to be competitive. Supporting the Play Store outright is impressive, but still lacks in one key area. Their lineage of manufacturer and developer support may end up carrying the day for them, and is a very important ‘foot in the door’.

  • HitokiriX

    I don’t think these things will ever really be able to compete with console gaming…

    • APai

      ouya and others are not even trying for the mainstream gaming market. this is a completely different low cost market. they are trying to capture casual gamers who have played games on the cheap on cellphones, and now would like something different.

      this has happened simply because the hardware has advanced to this point, this is a well timed product.

      • Darkling

        you do realize that’s there is literally no difference between an ouya and ANY android phone, right?

        • APai

          I do realize that, that’s the reason I’m rooting for them – that they went out and created the low cost console!

          people can’t figure out configuring android apps like six axis with root etc. how do you get to “throw” the game on screen to the tv with audio etc and use the phone as a controller ? or some other possibilities ?

          there are alternatives like moga, however, playing some games on the cheap on ouya and using it as an xbmc box is very convenient. why should there be a high entry point for consoles ? i’m impressed with ouya precisely because they pitched it in a price sensitive zone. they aren’t pretending it to be an xbox. who knows, the next version might just have a qualcomm 800 class processor that will power HD games!

  • Luis Augusto Fretes Cuevas

    This article is delusional.

  • cycad007

    Gotta disagree with you, Nate. I don’t see Android overtaking the Xbox & Playstation

    • D’Ander McSullivan

      I do, but maybe in some years.

      • HitokiriX

        Android will never have the catalog to compete with Sony or Microsoft when it comes to gaming. And it will take quite a few years for these devices to be able to compete graphically with gaming consoles. I’m not sure if that gap will ever close.

        • D’Ander McSullivan

          Years ago, everybody said “Android will never compete with iOs”, and here we are. Currently Android catalog and graphic power is far from compete directly with the next generation of consoles, but I wouldn’t underestimate it.

          • HitokiriX

            iOS was still brand new. Microsoft and Sony have had the top spots on lock for almost 2 decades now. I don’t underestimate Android at all, I love it. But in the gaming world, it’s much more difficult to break in. Even casual gamers play big name games.

          • D’Ander McSullivan

            Well, you got a point there. Anyway, just the time will tell what’s going to happen.

          • APai

            well, wii competed with the big two in a different niche altogether. I say wii competed, because there was no one in that space, but overall ‘gaming’ money flowed there .
            there’s a market for ouya too – it’s just that it’s not the same as the big two

  • taz89

    Lol if you really think these are a threat to console gaming then you don’t know what console gaming is, people don’t buy the likes of ps3 and Xbox for quick burst of fun.. They want lengthy games that pulls you in and not mobile being that you play minutes at a time.. If you truly believe the likes of ouya etc will be able to replace consoles like the ps3/4 etc then you are way off.

  • Charles Chambers

    I agree with your article. I know that hardcore gamers will stay loyal to the consoles. But the casual gamers will slowly wane themselves off the consoles, which will eat into profits. The consoles did this to computer games. The ONLY people I know who play computer games (besides Facebook games) are the most hardcore gamers. 20 years ago, that wasn’t the case. Consoles supplantedPC gaming.

  • Piyush

    Console is never for a mass market its for hardcore gamer and sadly android console may rise because of cheapness not for quality games. man i cant believe people are willing to leave high quality games like gta 5 , call of duty , forza sport 5 and my favorite project spark for few cheap games like angry bird , cut rope and temple run. But also this article IS totally pointless .And still android game quality is still nowhere the ios let alone leave the console.

    • APai

      “sadly android console may rise because of cheapness and not for quality games”
      why SADLY ? dude, the the rest of the people need something other than expensive xbox or ps4. in case of the traditional consoles, the cost of ownership is staggered – expensive games, subscription etc etc. as opposed to probably the same model or a variant at half the cost.

      who knows ouya might be the stepping stone for gamers to buy a more expensive console like xbox at a later stage when they grow out of ouya.

      • Piyush

        i hope too dude that it would encourage them to buy true console.

        • Markimus

          High quality games? And you mention Call of Duty? Are you kidding me?

          I agree with what you’re saying regarding the cheap games like angry birds, cut the rope etc. However give it time, and hopefully there’ll be a few decent games, but only time will tell on that front.

          Personally though I’m sick of games being repackaged with a few new levels and items, and having to pay £40 for them. I want something new and different.

          • Piyush

            i have just told my favorite game , there are many more games coming but this much much better than any other android games and you also wait for sometime and you will see new and different games on xbox and ps4 , if you want quality you have to pay price .

  • fandroid98

    I think this article hit it head on. Over time, many casual gamers will migrate to smartphones, tablets and consoles like the Ouya, or the rumored Apple TV built for gaming.

  • APai

    ouya and the new breed are really a new category that’s been born out of android. it’s just that it has a “low cost” billing to it. had it been apple who started it, the press would have gone ga-ga over it. at some stage apple too would release such a category, and say “this changes everything”.

    ouya is a low investment and low return gaming for the masses who dont really care or are not intensely driven for gaming. if there’s a market out there outside of traditional gaming consoles. why not ?

  • Salem

    Android doesn’t even have the same quality of games as on consoles. Let’s be honest all these Android consoles like the Ouya, Project Shield, and GameStick are doomed to fail. Consoles are going to be with us for a very long time, this reminds me of a lot of people calling this the “Post PC era”, when in reality PC’s are going to stay for a long time. Another fact is that if Apple were to make a game console that supports iOS games, it won’t beat the Xbox or PlayStation or Wii U, but it WILL crush Android consoles, since iOS has more selection games than on Android.

    Is this article delusional like Luis Augusto Fretes Cuevas mentioned? Well…yes.

  • Alex

    This article is seriously retarded.

    FPS shooters require: 1) A mouse or 2) a HIGH QUALITY gamepad

    ANGRY BIRDS, Cut the Rope, etc require: 1) A BLOODY TOUCHSCREEN or 2) Motion Control like KINECT.

    OUYA has none of the above… How can it possibly threaten traditional gaming consoles or even traditional smartphones and tablets???

    IMHO It will fail miserably…

    • Masaaki Hosoi

      It does have a fairly good gamepad. Yes, there were issues initially, but they have been fixed. Buttons do not stick anymore. Thumbsticks are very responsive, zero deadzone issues. On occasion I’ve heard the triggers can squeak, which can be fixed easily (and I’ve actually had Xbox 360 controllers with the exact same issue)

    • Luka Mlinar

      Agreed only on the FPS part. Still i don’t use a “HIGH QUALITY gamepad” and i do just fine :)

  • Paolo T.

    Yeah. Because the first experience YOU want for your child to gaming, is with a cheap [and cheerful] ‘Angry Birds,’ rather than letting him/her experience the joys of detailed, immersive, and impressive, gaming experience that only the XBOX and the PS can deliver.

    It will take some time before Android can support the technology to make a game that may be impressive for the platform, but what the console-owning community would call as ‘not bad, but not great either.’

  • cookie

    Android gaming is good while your on the move or wating for a bus but lets get real if I am at home and want games with real depth and obvioulsy great graphics then its a consoles everytime. There is place for all tech but lets keep it in its right place and not punch above its weight….

  • Mike Bastable

    Again poorly researched article from the Infamous Nate. Going against all the Analysts and Experts within the Gaming Industry Sanner sees the future as Android based gaming….strange. Consoles are huge and will remain huge because Gamers want quality game focused hardware tailored to their needs. The casual gamers traditionally used Nintendo, but as Japanese experts have been noticing casual gamers seem to like iOS and it’s gaming, letting the probable emergence of Apple TV with apps become a real and present danger to Nintendo. ( luckily for them DS is doing ok)
    So the rush to Android gaming? This is quite simply being fueled by over specced handsets with nothing to do…the mega equipped graphic beasts of today can do so much moe than run the pretty front end visuals of the large full HD screens…they can also run, lightning fast, Games. Publishers are seeing this and react accordingly. A new market powerd by highly specced machines that the user base updates every two years! Now THAT is an emerging market and potential rival for consoles.
    Apple, Google and Microsoft understand this and we will see a focus into and onto Gaming on Smartphones emerge this year. Should be good. The gamesticks and Ouya etc will emerge, be resonably effective but will not change anything. The already purchased Smartphones with great graphics, 4 core processors and built in sensors are going to change things, and change them soon. Can’t wait!!!!!

  • Siralf

    I do wanna sit in front of a 75″ LED TV and play PS4 or XBOX ONE for hours on end. What’s wrong with you?

  • Abdulahad Shah

    Project SHIELD might leave the ps4& xbox behind in powerful gaming and its portable+android(JELLYBEAN!!!!)

  • Yojimbo

    Look my time is important…core gamers 15-25..have that time I dont,
    Im a middle aged guy that must give his time to family and work and sadly gaming has to take a back seat, not until recently I have been able to get back into gaming through a mobile device…which incredibly has taken leaps and bounds in progression..tomorrows phones with tegra 4 and lte advance will have us there in my opinion.

  • Luka Mlinar

    Am i the only one who thinks that Nvidias SHIELD thing is gonna fail big time? FFS it cost’s as much as a phone and it’s only good for one things. No one will surf the web on it or do anything else since it’s more convenient to take your phone out. Considering how much the thing costs and that it’s easily replaced with a gaming extension for your smartphone i don’t see anyone with half a brain buying it.Other then that i am looking forward to OUYA (plan to buy it when they roll out v2.0) and other similar consoles.

  • Jarl

    Ouya isnt going anywhere, you really should readd the comments on kickstarter.
    -Units are being held at german customs for missing CE on the controllers and the console seems to be missing a hdmi license
    -the controller is flimsy, buttons hardly work
    –consoles breaking within a week
    -a lot of people still dont have their ouya, and people are complaining about the tracking id not working

    gamestick? seriously?

    the only real contenders are Shield, for portable gaming and maybe project MOJO, if they really stick a tegra 4 in that thing

    just my 2 cents…

    • APai

      they came up from the kickstarter route. they are a proper indy company and not sony or microsoft like behemoth to have hundreds of lawyers and legel eagles to sort out all the mess. i’d give them more time. we simply need smaller companies to survive or even start for starters! the early birds were all the backers of the project (most likely).

  • Βερέκυνθος Σταμάτη

    I really thought Android Authority has good writing journalists that do pragmatic research and produce reasonable claims. I am afraid this is not the case with this article. How on earth will Android ever replace consoles, with its current fragmentation and vast disparity of devices?

    Game developers for Android need to make games that will run, regardless if the phone is a 320×240 with a single-core CPU and an inefficient GPU, or for the latest quad-core beasts. The problem is that with such a huge amount of devices and architectures to support, the games have to be scaled back. Android will improve in the future, but it has such a long way to go until it can be a contender platform for gaming that we are still within the realm of fiction.

  • infiniteZOID

    Everybody are complaining about the SHIELD while forgetting that it can stream games from your high end pc whenever its got an internet connection and your computer is on, this allows you to play the high end games you want to, but you can do that when not at home because you are using your shield merely as a display and controller here while using your pc as a workhorse. This is a very important, if not the most important feature of the SHIELD and i can not believe that the writer missed out on it so badly. Though you can still use the shield with steam and download and play the games directly on your SHIELD, which is a HUGE advantage which more than makes up for the steep price.

  • For-I-am-CJ

    Nate, do you have an OUYA? I honestly think they’ve done way more harm to the Android as a gaming platform ecosystem than good. The hardware isn’t that bad (although it it is generally slower as it’s usually rendering on a larger screen).

    But anyone who has dealt with OUYA (the company) so far has plenty of reasons to dissuade others from “joining the ranks” of dissatisfied OUYA owners. The company has consistently misled or outright lied to the Kickstarter backers. Several of the promises made about customization (specifically root access) of the OUYA during the KS campaign have since been reneg’d upon. The build quality of the first run of controllers was full of issues (most notably the sticking button issue) but OUYA shipped the controllers out even months after they admitted the issue and promised a fix, thus forcing customers to have to request an RMA for a brand new controller “right out of the box”.

    I could go on, but OUYA (the company) is a mess and I think any casual gamer who buys one (and then has to deal with them and their awful “support” team afterward) will be incredibly disappointed in the platform, and likely avoid Android consoles for the foreseeable future.

  • Sal

    My gosh. Android is the king of mobile os. It has no threat or any potential to knock out the Ps4 or the xbox one which have new and powerful features specs processor speed etc.

  • droidtomtom

    Don’t forget to include Google Play Games and what we have learned from the PS Vita.
    My vision is that when ARM chips get more powerful any phone or tablet can be our gaming console. With a wireless HDMI to a HDTV and universal low latency Bluetooth or WiFi controllers. And it won’t be long before hobbists develop Xbox and PS4 Emulators for Android.