On November 12, 2012, Nintendo fired the first shot of the Eighth’s Generation’s console war with the launch of the Wii U. Lately we’ve even been getting rumors about Microsoft and Sony’s new consoles. And these days it’s not coming from your friend who doesn’t know how to use the internet and thinks that Japan has the Xbox 720 already. But there have been some huge changes in the market since the start of the Seventh Generation. Unless you’ve spent the last seven years in bed with a Dreamcast IV drip, you already know that the indie market has exploded thanks to digital distribution services like Steam, the Android Marketplace and the XBLA. Thanks to these, everyman programmers can make games for an audience in the millions. And thanks to Kickstarter, they’re also getting the funding they need to make these games and even some consoles. The last strike for me deciding to write this article was when Gabe Newell confirmed the existence of the Steam Box. Since we’ve never had this many consoles competing at once, I’m going to go down the list and try to sort this whole mess out.
The Ouya is a tiny Android based home console. It held its Kickstarter last summer and raised over $8 million. As far as open-sourced consoles go, I think this one has the best chance of disrupting the ecosystem. Ouya’s marketplace will make it easy for developers to get their games out there. The console is pretty simple: for $99 you get it plus a controller. There will be both free and paid games in there, so you can expect a huge library upon launch. The internet seemed pretty excited about it at the time, but like any other medium they have the attention span of a kid who refuses to swallow his Ritalin. So they moved on to this…
The Game Stick
When I first heard about the Game Stick, I wasn’t interested in all. I was hoping to ignore it, but then I saw my friend reblogged it on Tumblr, so I decided I would at least try to write about it. The Game Stick is a tiny Android based home console. Sound familiar? Yeah, this is why I’m not interested in it. Little late to the party, guys. I think the only reason this got so much press was because it raised double the goal in only a couple days. But like I said, the Ouya raised $8 million, which is around twenty times as much as the Game Stick has raised so far. So that huge initial interest seems pretty irrelevant now. The team behind this seems to have a pretty big fetish for television sets. I think that they’re kind of confusing their own audience. The people who are most concerned with gaming on their TVs are looking mainly for AAA titles that cost millions of dollars and will definitely not work on the Game Stick. The people who want indie and open source games likely have a minimum of a $300 netbook and twenty bucks for a controller. If they want to play those same games on their flat screen then they can buy a $2 VGA or HDMI cord. But I guess the same could be said for the Ouya.
Whether you like it or not, we’re going to make a huge jump to digital in the future. The way I see it, Steam is the best example of the potential of this system. I’m not ashamed to say I get a bad feeling in my wallet every time they have a sale. One of the first articles I considered publishing on here was about the possibility of Valve making a home console. Afterall, physical media will soon be going the way of 3D Doritos and Saturday morning cartoons. Putting out a home console would let them move into the nice big market that the big three have been enjoying so much. Gabe Newell said that the console would be pretty open, so that’s already a huge advantage. Maybe Bigfoot will finally give the push to end these stupid console wars and we can finally escape BS like missing out on Halo without an Xbox. We’ll see. You know, I should write an article about the post-console world. Stay tuned.