Google acquired Green Throttle, a startup working on turning Android devices into gaming consoles.
Launched back in November 2012, Green Throttle was founded by Guitar Hero creator Charles Huang and Matt Crowley and Karl Townsend, two longtime Palm employees, who worked on the legendary Palm Pilot.
Green Throttle’s plan was to offer a Bluetooth controller, an app called Android Arena, and an SDK that would allow game developers to quickly adapt their titles to work with the controller. Users would connect their device to their TV using a MHL cable, fire up a compatible game, pick up the controller, and play. The idea was simple, yet very bold: replace bulky dedicated consoles with the one device that we all carry around all day.
However, the startup quietly folded in November 2013, when it announced it’s pulling the app from the Play Store and discontinuing support for the controller. It seems that the reason was an acquisition by Google.
Pando Daily reported, and Google confirmed, that assets of Green Throttle have been bought by the Mountain View giant, in a deal that also saw co-founders Matt Crowley and Karl Townsend jumping ship. CEO Charles Huang did not join Google and continues to hold rights over some aspects of the Green Throttle business.
This looks to be an acquihire, a way for Google to bolster its gaming team, at a time when the company is rumored to be working on a set-top box that will have a strong gaming component. As Ars Technica’s Ron Amadeo noticed, Townsend and Crowley list their jobs at Google as Hardware Guy and Product Guy respectively, vague titles suggesting the two are working on a secret project.
The Wall Street Journal reported in the past that Google was preparing a device that would put Android at the center of users’ living room’s, while according to The Information’s Amir Efrati (formerly with WSJ), Google would launch this console/set-top-box in the first part of the year under the Nexus brand.
Gaming on Android devices has been an area of great interest in the past year, with companies like Ouya, Nvidia, Moga, or Mad Catz attempting to stake their claims. Making money out of Android gaming hardware is not as simple as it may sound though – as shown by Ouya’s (the poster child of serious gaming on Android) recent shift in strategy, convincing customers to buy Android-powered consoles is no trivial task. Google, with its massive resources, strong media backing, and capacity to sell hardware at low costs, could change everything very soon.