...Another one? To quote Chris Rock, I thought it was Groundhog's Day when I heard this. One was already one in the wrong direction for the medium. I'll explain...
Traditional media usually follows the same 3 step process:
- The "Birth" Era: This is when the form of communication has just been realized at a very high price so only the most wealthy can participate in it. However, it's revolutionary nature creates massive demand. (The only major for of media where this doesn't apply is with movies, which was made as the poor man's theater).
- The "Golden" Era: The time that passes by drops the need for high supply costs. As a result, popularity booms. Accessibility allows everyone, including the great minds of the time, to delve into the medium, creating classics. It's a small point in time where Quality and Popularity of something increase to new heights simultaneously.
- The "Specialized" Era: Not as crucial for the sake of this post, but understand this is when the audience gets segmented into specific demographics and psychographics so it is easier to capitalize off of the audience.
Many game developers and designers are optimistic about the low cost of games thanks to the new mobile industry (smartphones and tablets, specifically). Gaming has now become accessible to those of all ages on devices that we all already cherish, ushering in gaming's Golden Era.
The Ouya console gained over $9 million in the concept of trying to blend the new accessibility with the old interactivity; they promised that the game didn't have to leave the TV. While it adapted Android's openness, the company created a new console and controller and is hoping developers creates new game (in addition to ports) to bring back gaming to it's traditional roots.
Here's my problem: The Ouya uses specs fairly similar in what you find in common android devices, running games these devices can surely run (since they are using the same OS), using controllers eerily similar to the ones we already have, connecting to TV's we already have. Why? If all those components are so similar to what we possess right now, then the components themselves are not the weakpoint to change our lives; it's the way these devices connect with each other. My PS3 controller does not connect with my nexus 7 (at least not well - I'd prefer to go wireless without rooting). My nexus 7 does not connect with my TV (again... not inherently). You may be thinking that not everyone who plays games owns a tablet or smartphone, to which I'd mention that the market share of smartphones in the US has surpassed 50%, and that 1 in 4 Americans now own a tablet. Clearly these are two industries that will slow down nowhere near this point in time.
Instead of devices like the GameStick, we should be encouraging developers to encourage more compatibility with the devices we already own. Have "Game Such and Such" (which is definitely a postmodern look at something that I should be developing in my spare time) have support for controllers and touchscreens. Both Ouya and GameStick promise openness, but really are closing themselves off from millions of devices which could actually run many of the games they will offer with the small addition of an extra API set. I don't think that should alienate the people who would love to play the GTA3 they currently enjoy on their Galaxy S3 from enjoying it on their TV.
The sad thing is, Game Developer support is the easy part. The tough part is getting these devices to communicate easily with the television. There are a countless number of ways that this thing is supported, and no real true standard is reached. Google has Miracast; Apple has Airplay; Microsoft hopped on Sony's DLNA boat, and there are many more. Who knows which one to support, and for what costs. I mean, TV's in large still support entry level A/V for crying out loud.
I only ask this as a gamer who wants enjoy the same games he already has in the way he wants to without paying extra money for it all. I don't want the accessibility that the Golden Era ensures to be limited by proprietary hardware in an era that couldn't care less about gadgets and really wants excellent software and services.