At E3 last week, mobile tech and entertainment company Snail Games showed a new Android-based game console called OBox (or "online box"), which it also displayed at CES earlier this year.
Unlike many Android consoles, OBox isn’t designed primarily for streaming and allows players to download games to the hardware. It can output games in 4K resolution and includes an "air mouse" built into a controller that looks like something Microsoft would make. Snail also designed the console to be upgradeable, so if someone wants to swap out their processor down the line, they can drop in that piece rather than purchase a new unit.
In an interview with Polygon, Snail’s Peter Kang said the company is in talks with many developers and publishers to line up titles for the system. But he admitted it’s early days and Snail is an underdog in the U.S. market.
According to Kang, Snail is trying to appeal to hardcore players. At E3, the company demonstrated an entry in Gameloft’s Modern Combat series designed to work on the console, and Kang says his team is encouraging Android developers to tackle big projects that will feel at home on a big screen than on a phone. While OBox will have its own online store, players will also be free to buy games from others.
In China, Snail is a large company, with over 2,500 employees and a successful mobile business. Playing to Snail’s strengths, the OBox will launch in China first. Unlike in the U.S., the Chinese console market isn’t dominated by a small group of companies, and consoles like PlayStation 4 and Xbox One only recently became legal to sell there. Instead, many companies are trying to stake their claim, and Kang hopes Snail can rise above the pack.
"They’re a competitive market that’s super fragmented," Kang said.
Kang added that Snail will not keep its own games such as Taichi Panda exclusive to the OBox, but continue to sell them on as many platforms as possible.
Snail is aiming to release the OBox in China soon, with a U.S. release planned for the first half of 2016. The company has yet to announce a price for the hardware.