Microconsoles Gear Up Like Never Before; Gaming Showdown in the Pipeline

July 19, 2013, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

Though many indie gamers and developers look to make new games from time to time, it becomes difficult for them to deal with the expense of working with major console makers such as Microsoft and Sony. That has been the case all through.

In fact working with majors give these developers little freedom as they would have to abide by their business interests too.

It is here that microconsoles come into play. Considered an alternative to major consoles, they provide a potential market for indie gamers and developers and also the freedom to go about doing their tasks.

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If you are wondering what the term Microconsole means, it is usually used for describing low-cost Android based gaming consoles that are small in size. These gaming consoles are specially designed to connect to televisions and play video games downloaded from app stores, such as the Google Play Store. Unlike main console providers, Microconsoles are cheap and easy for developing games.

Moreover, the low manufacturing costs and increased system compatibility help developers for easier game development for these consoles. Yet, they are not intended to compete with big video game consoles.

Year 2013 may very well be dubbed the year of the microconsole, with a few major releases already happening in this arena. A few of them have already stormed into the gaming market and show promise.

For instance, the Nvidia Shield microconsole, which debuted at the CES 2013, is an Android based gaming system by Nvidia  and one of the first devices to launch in the market with Nvidia’s latest Tegra 4 ARM processor. The best feature of the Shield console is that it is capable of streaming games from your PC to the device.

But unfortunately, it only streams over Wi-Fi, therefore the quality of streaming will depend on the quality of your Wi-Fi network. The Shield device is expected to launch by the end of this month with a price tag of $299.

Ouya, another Android-based video game console, has a few advantages over the others . It costs only $100 so that any one can afford this console. Also, all the games are free to try and this feature is surely going to attract gamers on a budget. Though Ouya has a huge potential as a cheap microconsole, it needs a lot of modifications to succeed in the market.

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If you are wondering how small a microconsole can get, then the PlayJam GameStick is the best answer for you. The PlayJam GameStick is one of the smallest consoles and interestingly it is just a bit larger than a typical thumbdrive. Moreover, this highly portable console will be available for just $80.

Mad Catz will be soon releasing its own Android-based console, dubbed the Mojo. Mad Catz has a history for making pretty great controllers, so we can expect the same high quality for their gaming console Mojo. The company has not yet revealed information on its price and release date.

The Wikipad is an Android based gaming tablet with an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor. Though it includes full Google Play compatibility, $250 could be a lot more for a tablet/portable game console with Tegra 3.

The normal Gamepop and the Gamepop Mini are the two version of Gamepop. Although both consoles run Android OS, the larger Gamepop works better. But, the Gamepop Mini will be able to handle your favorite apps and games well and available for free with a $6.99 monthly subscription. While the normal Gamepop is priced at $129.

All said, with a slew of microconsoles invading the market, it seems like the gaming terrain has something to play for in the near term. What do you have to say?

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