I just backed the GameStick, a new Kickstarter project to create an Android-based console out of a device that can be housed in the controller (which works over Bluetooth) and is perfect for portable gaming.
While I’m a big fan and backer of OUYA, I think that it is important to support efforts like this that help create alternative ecosystems in gaming and help shake up the console world. Also, there are a couple of compelling unique differences:
The console is tiny: the GameStick’s combination of a Bluetooth controller and the ability to power the console from the HDMI port on certain televisions (and USB on the rest) makes this a great option for gaming on the big screen on the go. I travel a fair bit, and the idea of being able to bring a console with me to hotel rooms is definitely appealing.
There is an established platform: PlayJam is already a provider of gaming-as-a-service to Smart TV providers, so they already have an SDK in place. This will give the platform a level of maturity and ensure that developers get support from the onset.
Developers already know them: since PlayJam has a history of working with developers to help bring their games to other TV platforms, they should have the skills necessary to help get developers to embrace the GameStick.
Ultimately, I think that we’re at an amazing moment of disruptive innovation in the games space where cheap consoles don’t have to be plug-and-play game systems or Wii knock-offs you’d buy at a pharmacy. As hardware costs continue to diminish, we’re not at the perfect time to really create a new gaming environment. This creates new distribution opportunities for smaller devs and cheaper high-quality console experiences for gamers. While AirPlay presents an interesting opportunity for playing handheld games on the big screen, it unfortunately hasn’t really caught on. Ultimately, Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft will have to decide whether bigger and better is really what the players want. Considering that the GameStick reached its $100,000 target on the 2nd day of the campaign, it seems like players are speaking with their dollars. THe question now is whether the traditional gaming industry is listening.