09
Jun
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With all the Android gaming hardware announcements of late, I've really started to wonder: are people actually going to buy any of this stuff in meaningful quantities? You've got Moga's new controllers, Mad Catz is doing a console, BlueStacks is doing a console, and then there are the already-announced things like Shield, Ouya, GameStick, and the seemingly ever-growing list of "made for Android" wireless controllers.

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There's something that's been eating at me about all this stuff, though: it really does feel like a lot of the hype around the Android gaming segment is self-generated. There has been a vocal demand among some Android users, yes, for a good wireless game controller. I think that need, frankly, continues to be best-met by the Sixaxis controller app, which lets you use your existing PS3 DualShock as a wireless Android game controller. The DualShock is a fantastic piece of hardware, and I don't think any of the existing Android controllers come close to it in terms of fit, finish, and comfort. Using it with a phone, though, is obviously a bit of a pain.

The best smartphone-specific controller solution is probably the Moga Pro, as its dock mechanism makes using a game controller with a smartphone not-so-awful. Still, this feels like a niche product. A niche within a niche, even (serious mobile gamers who also want a controller). Fact aside that there is still a significant difference between a game that works with a hardware game controller and one that has been optimized for such use. And then there's battery life concerns (the new Mogas charge your phone, but that may have its own issues), the issue of where you keep the controller, and the question of whether most mobile games really need a controller to be enjoyed.

As to the console-like devices (BlueStacks, MadCatz, Ouya, GameStick, Shield - sort of), I still question whether there is room for one successful Android-powered gaming console in the market, let alone five. The big issue for these devices will be exposure. As the PS4, Xbox One, and yes, the Wii U (not looking so stupid after the Xbox: DRM Edition, is it?) start their marketing engines into steamroll mode post-E3, attention for alternative devices will be hard to come by. This aside from the totally-reasonable debate about whether Android consoles are something that really make sense.

So, are you really set on buying some kind of Android gaming accessory or dedicated hardware in the coming year? Or has this emerging market left you content with touch gaming as it is for the time being? Vote in the poll below.

Are you planning on buying an Android game console or controller this year?

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David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Renaud Lepage

    Had I not unplanned spendings, I'd have my SHIELD pre-o already

  • Bojan Gutic

    Not even remotely interested. I've got a Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 10 that already play pretty much every game I'm interested in (most of which are touch optimized). I've also got a PS3 and a PC I can play games on. This is just yet another unnecessary device at a point in time when dedicated mobile game consoles are dying and being replaced by smartphones.

    • Booyabobby

      Same here. I have a Galaxy Nexus, Xbox and access to a Ipad.. No point in getting a Sheild or a Ouya at this point.

  • RenatoFontesTapia

    I'm not interested on what is out right now. Gaming could be awesome of mobile if there was some sort of standard that could get GOOD companies interested in creating games for android.

  • lizkqw

    big yes for a controller. not much to ask: 20 bucks tops, bt+usb, x360-like layout, universal holder. kickstarter it and make it happen pls! :D

    • http://www.jeroenheijster.com/ Jeroen Heijster

      Moga pro is out, it's 49.99 though.

  • nateify

    Still using my Xperia Play solely for handheld emulation. I've loaded it with hundreds of ROMs, a retro pirate's dream. I am interested in the NVIDIA Shield if I can couple that with awesome, console-grade games.

  • http://billhay.es/ Bill Hayes

    I lost an iControlPad and I've ordered an iCP2. I'm lusting over NVIDIA SHIELD but I doubt I'll ever be able to justify the expense.

  • dirtmound

    The SHIELD looks stupid. I can't imagine even debating that. But they systems like Ouya, which a cheap price and android gaming on the TV sounds like fun.

    • Hal Motley

      The problem for me is that the main focus of the Shield seems to be the portable streaming from mobile to PC using an NVIDIA GPU. As someone who only has ATI cards for serious gaming. That's an issue.

      Even if I hate the OUYA, it's cheap and will always be a haven for homebrew even if the games suck. That's what I don't mind paying for. :-)

  • Daniel

    There needs to be an option for "I already have" for us Ouya Kickstarter backers.

    • Lekz

      Add me to this one.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      An option for one category of person (backers) for one product (Ouya) is overkill. I think you're OK choosing the "I will buy" option.

      • Daniel

        This is true but there are a lot of backers and it doesn't seem like it would have been a lot of effort. Thzt is the option I selected though.

    • TheIcemanCometh

      I am also in this group. While I certainly don't expect an Ouya to replace my Xbox 360 or my PS3, I was willing to donate to the Kickstarter to help foster competition and innovation. Granted, it may be some time before they get to even that point, but you can't run until you can walk, right?

  • David Margolin

    only if the price is right

  • ScottColbert

    This falls under the category of "Stuff I didn't know I wanted."

  • hurrpancakes

    I decided to preorder the Shield. My main interest in it is as a pc game streaming device firstly, and an Android gaming machine is secondary.

  • GeForceFX

    When you make proper games (vita style) like Street fighter available on android - call me.

    • Hal Motley

      There is a lack of big titles on the mobile (smartphone/tablet) market. But there is a problem that mobile app stores have to be cheap for the consumer, a concept that is embedded in for the consumer and the best, most profitable way around it for the developers/publishers is the abysmal free-to-play concept.

      Hopefully the new Android dedicated consoles (particularly the OUYA) can help this situation, though.

  • jramirezw

    Meh... if there were a standard for Android gaming, sure. Something like universally compatible controllers (for example, I'd love PS3 controller support on devices other than Sony tablets).

    • Hal Motley

      MOGA's controllers are reasonably universal between the official app and the universal driver. The MOGA Pocket which is only one I own does well in that respect, though is designed more for portability than comfort and can be clunky for gaming. I guess the MOGA Pro exists for a reason! XD

    • Hans-Jörg Meyer

      Android supports generic HID devices (Bluetooth and USB) since 3.1. I have no clue why so many manufacturers of Android controllers require their own SDK and special support in each single game.

  • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

    They are simply too expensive compared to actual game consoles, i could get a PS3 by paying 2x as much but i also get actual games and not some ps1 shit graphics games

    • David Margolin

      right but ps3 games will cost you 40 bucks a piece while ouya games will take you back 10 bucks max...

      • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

        You get what you pay for basically...

        • Hal Motley

          PC is usually around $40-50 a title and a lot of slightly older/indie around half that. The CPU and GPU power is as much as your wallet can handle! XD

          Though I'll be immensely satisfied with a stable-ish/stable PS2 emulator on the OUYA and believe I will have gotten my money's worth. Given a few generations!

          • GraveUypo

            rofl ouya doesn't even have the power to dream about emulating a ps2 as it stands.

          • Hal Motley

            Give it a few generations, they say the hardware will be updated annually.

          • Lumi

            Speaking of PC (and this is probably the wrong place to ask), how's Microsoft Surface Pro as a portable PC gaming device?

          • Hal Motley

            It's relevant in that we are talking about mobile devices for gaming and hey there is Ubuntu available on it, maybe Android will follow.

            I don't really know though, but the Surface Pro only has the inbuilt Intel HD 4000 for all the GPU needs of the device so hardcore, performance-intensive gaming is out of the question.

            The Razor Edge tablet fills that niche by having a 2GB NVIDIA 640M GPU with NVIDIA's Optimus techonology. So I would game on that out of choice, though it would be nice to dualboot it with something especially at the $999 price tag.

  • Hal Motley

    The whole Android gaming scene is pretty crazy right now, but I really am interested in an OUYA mostly for emulation on the big screen and indie titles. I have no interest in the alternatives though like the underpowered Gamestick, the subscription-based Bluestacks console and the amazingly overpowered iConsole.tv.

    Seriously AP, has anyone seen this? It's absurd:

    http://www.iconsole.tv/

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      I have not seen this. It is absurd. Just, why.

      • Hal Motley

        Got a spare $999 to enter their developer program? XD

        I only saw it via Google's AdWords when I looking up the OUYA. It definitely is the craziest of the bunch. I guess I could dual-boot Android with Windows/Ubuntu, but a dedicated console? Absurd.

    • gspida

      I wonder why AP never has any postings about all of these Android PC sticks and boxes. This seems the way to go with a controller. Look at this guys Youtube Channel http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxQhwuAIoiu534fMo2_20sw He has reviewed so many of these its crazy how many there are and they just keep coming.

      • Hal Motley

        There are too many these days. It all started with the Cotton Candy stick that while looked promising, never materialised fully: http://www.fxitech.com/

        Shortly afterwards I hear about the Allwinner A10 and then a ton of these sticks. Problem for me is that I value a good, well-known OEM and these sticks aren't made by them. I guess they have potential, though.

  • http://ashrahman.tumblr.com/ Ash Rahman

    Dedicated gaming system? No. Controller? Kind of.

    Basically, we already carry around with us a mini-gaming console. It has all our purhcases on it, all our account info for multiplayer gaming and a more-than-capable processor for HD games.

    What I want is a dock next to my TV which I can place my phone in and allow it to connect to the TV. It'd charge whilst I use it and sync with a wireless controller. Boom: instant access to the games I already have, with the best and biggest display on my house all from the living room couch.

    I really don't need to buy into a whole new platform just to play the games I already own. Give me a dock and a wireless controller and I'm happy.

    • Hal Motley

      The dock to TV concept you mentioned, reminds me of Ubuntu for Android: http://www.ubuntu.com/phone/ubuntu-for-android

      It would be interesting if smartphone/tablet manufacturers could do it, particularly Sony with their mobile games store. Apple's AirPlay isn't a bad concept either, though Apple would have probably patented it to death.

      • http://ashrahman.tumblr.com/ Ash Rahman

        I mean, theoretically all it would do is just tie in existing technologies and ways of doing things. Theoretically, you can already just use an MHL adapter to connect your TV to your phone whilst charging, and then use bluetooth to sync to a PS3 controller, but it's just a janky way of doing things and there's no standardisation.

        It would be nice if Google that the oomph to lead the way, rather than waiting for third parties to do it for them. There's nothing stopping a company as big as Google producing a "Nexus Gaming Dock". If anything, it'd be a big push for Google Play Games services, announced at I/O.

        To be honest though, a big problem is standardisation on controllers/controller mapping. Hence why every company like OUYA, Gamestick and Nvidea is trying to build a 'platform' which will simply things for devs. Bahhh. Just give me a dock and let me be haha.

        • Hal Motley

          A big problem is existing game support, there are plenty of good games on Android that will only be patched for critical things because the developers have moved on. MOGA are trying to lead the way on this, but the controller isn't without its flaws.

  • Dex

    I preordered an nvidia shield, i have many android gaming handhelds from JXD and Yinlips, they are great but the build quality is usually crappy. I for one can't wait for the shield! I hate touchscreen gaming, and having dedicated hardware buttons (that is not another gamepad i have to bluetooth connect to a phone with a gameklip or some other contraption) is amazing. Once you try it you love it. The more android dedicated gaming devices the better, as it will only lead to more, better quality games on the android platform, rather than more stupid clones of angry birds and fruit ninja.

  • Nicktrance

    Definitely not yet but I might eventually depending on the feedback they get and once I get an nVidia 7 series card/AMD releases a competitor.

  • Bay Area Tech Pros

    I got a MOGA just so I could use my phone as a sega genesis and snes, not sure why I would get a different system if my phone/tablet does it.

  • troph

    I'm not particularly interested with one of these at this point, but I like the overall trend in mobile gaming.

  • Sandy McArthur

    I want a Shield, just waiting on some real life reviews before I order. I am looking forward to the Steam remote play feature for gaming from bed/elsewhere. I have my fingers crossed I'll be able to use it as a joystick/touchpad to control my big picture mode steam box.

  • cy_n_ic

    Nexus 7 + six axis app. What more do you need? if you want to get serious about emulation use a pc or laptop

  • GraveUypo

    i'm interest in what it might turn out to be, but i'm not interested in any of the products because android gaming is still a joke.

  • r00t4rd3d

    I got a Moga and a Nexus 7. I am all good.

  • JonJJon

    After getting a Vita, I realised how far ahead it is in portable gaming. Not in sheer power but the top games and the lesser known gems really are quite something on a handheld. Hopefully more AAA games are to come and not just indies (though I love them too) otherwise it'll be a pricey PS4 accessory by the end of next year or so haha. The Shield is impressive but it's not for me, or Android gaming at more hardcore/dedicated level, at least not for now.

  • Ivan Myring

    I want a shield. If it comes to the UK at a reasonable price ill get one. I cant help myself. I lust after any new gadget. Not even interested in the streaming. Just android gaming and good emulators

    • Abhinav

      it will come to UK alright but reasonable pricing is something you shouldn't expect !

  • Tyler Walles

    I don't have a single game on my phone or tablet, I got sucked into the whole angry birds thing when it first came out but after I've had absolutely zero interest in gaming on android, I've never actually been a fan of casual or portable gaming

    • Geoff Johnson

      Same here, I've never even owned a GameBoy or PSP, it just never appealed to me. If I wanted to game on the go I'd bring my laptop. I'm a PC and console gamer.

  • Alan Shearer

    Just give me an xperia play 2 with tegra 4 or a new powerful processor so it last more than six months and we are good. The most successful until now of android gaming all in one (over what, 400 optimized games, not counting emulators). Shame it was released with low end hardware. Slide in looks like any other high end slider phone. Slide out and you have a well made built in controller that works without any problems.

  • Adam Smith

    A console is my preference as games eat away at battery which is already so coveted. It's my main reason for staying away from games on my phone. Tablets offer a better experience but a dedicated console would be nice, and hopefully it will boost android gaming :) Who knows, if they go down ok, Samsung, HTC and even Sony my bring an android console into the ring?

  • skitchbeatz

    I'd love to play games i've purchased from Google play that are controller optimized (GTA 3/vice city and others) as well as emulators for other older systems that i've got up upscaled to 1080p in my living room.

  • Alex Murphy

    Not a "dedicated" console, but a next gen Google TV + Play Games front and center with a packaged controller? Absolutely! Hopefully that's what Google's new streaming media device is that recently passed through the FCC. That makes the most sense because TV makers can start selling "smart TVs" with Android gaming built right in.

    • Kevin Aaronson

      Yep. I have a feeling we will see something of this sort soon. Great observation.

    • James

      Ouya is actually already trying to go this route. Now if Google decides they want a piece of the action I imagine they could win out if they put their chips in early enough.

  • Ravynmagi

    I already have the Moga Pocket, but I only got that because they were pretty much giving it away at $5. And I've really enjoyed it when playing actions games like Dungeon Hunter and Asphalt.

    I have an Nvidia Shield on pre-order. If it was just a dedicated Android gaming system, I probably wouldn't pay $350 for it. I see three uses I'll probably have for the Shield.

    Android gaming. There are quite a few nice Android action and racing games that play pretty nicely on the Moga and I imagine will be even better on a full sized game controller like the Shield. And with all the money I'm dumping on the hardware, it's a good thing many of these games are free to play.

    PC gaming. This is a big one, since if I just wanted to play Android games a Moga Pro with my Nexus 4 would be a much cheaper solution. I'd love to be able to go anywhere around the house with my Shield and play select high end PC games from this mobile device.

    Portable entertainment center. Sometimes I'll take a tablet and a stand to the kitchen to watch some YouTube or Netflix when preparing dinner or doing other things about. But I got to carry the stand separately, open it up, adjust the angle. Then I got to deal with a tablet that has a crap speaker in the back (I don't like using the iPad in some places because it's kinda big). So I can see myself just grabbing my Shield, the controller makes a great base, the screen can be tilted to whatever angle, the front facing speakers reportedly sound very good and loud. And I can plug this thing into a TV to continue with the viewing experience.

    • TheBigNoob

      That's assuming the bandwidth is there to actually send you a good feed from your PC to the shield (if you're not on your own wifi). I like the idea, but all that tech seems SoC agnostic, and with some hackery, I bet you can get the PC Streaming feature to work with just about any phone + controller. I like the concept of a dedicated android gaming system, but I'll stick with my moga pro.

  • Cuvis

    I already have an iControlPad, but I might trade it in for the next iteration of the Moga. The iControlPad is a bit hacky at times.

  • GazaIan

    Might get myself a Moga controller, seeing as how that appears to be the norm with developers.

  • jeffmd

    I would be fine with buying a android game console if it was a PC substitute (something the OUYA is not, it has no apps desktop). Some people don't need much and a tv/monitor with a small box for net access and entertainment is just fine for some people. Whats nice is it looks like we can get some nice CPUs and a nice android GPU pretty cheap in these things, I just dislike how devices like the ouya go out of there way to be game only and ruin the other uses it could be used for.

  • Could be Anyone

    For me and I think a lot of people it is the mater of price since a lot if these add on cost a bit too much for what they do and some aren't even worth its shipping cost knowing how much you have spent on your device if you have bought it outright I wouldn't want to be tossing another hundred for something that might get some occasional use since the battery life it will consume a lot more when playing games with it, honestly I don't understand the obsession with connecting through wifi or blue tooth when there is a perfectly working micro usb plug that can be taken advantage of in a similar fashion to usb otg.

    Somehow this idea seems to escape everyone's mind when brainstorming for one of these devices.

  • Sergio

    Do you mean an Intel Haswell Google TV box, 3-4 GB RAM, latest Android updates, optical / coaxial out, SD/SDHC in, USB host for local HDD storage and remote control phone app via WIFI? Yes I want it.

  • Yalla Tschikowski

    After the Shield gets released, i'll see if the streaming capabilities are somewhat good. If it is, i might buy one.

  • Lumi

    No thanks, I have enough bulk in my bag with my PSP and 3DS, not to mention gaming time

  • Himmat Singh

    No. Reason why I like mobile gaming is due to the touch controls. Yes, there may be limitations at times, but devs can work around them if they're innovative enough. Also, traditional controller games such as first-person shooters can actually be played better with a touchscreen than a controller once you get the practice. I can vouch for that.

  • CrazyPaladin

    Sorry not now, mobile games? Not really good enough, especially on Android. Why not a handheld console and leave very causal titles like angry birds to those touchscreens. If it's better with a controller rather than touchscreens, you may better off release on a old-fansioned (handheld) console.
    If it is a console based on Android, that would be great, but it wouldn't do much about current phone games, it's bound to be have its own ecosystem

  • Morten Ulveseth

    I think the market needs to mature.

  • CaibreGreyblade

    I'm still waiting for Android powered Vita.

    Oh, wait..

  • http://www.twitter.com/ninjustin ninjustin

    Some of these are nice and I would pick one up for XBMC if I didn't already have a HTPC connected to my TV. Otherwise my pc and Roku do what I want them to do on my TV.

  • https://steamcommunity.com/id/m-p-3 m-p{3}

    The Nvidia Shield looks promising.

  • Primalxconvoy

    1. "probably" Is a loaded answer. I will DEFINITELY support the right hardware gaming solution.

    2. whether it's a stand alone console is irrelevant, though. I believe strongly that for the gaming market to mature in the mobile market, dedicated and widely supported hardware control must be implemented at the os level and by the majority of game developers. I'm not implying that all games must support a controller (although it might be nice), but in order to attract and keep hardcore gamers and/or those who want to use a controller for genres that demand it (1st/3rd person shooters, driving games, beat em ups, etc).

    3. The hardware controls must be ergonomic. The form factor must blend in with a phone. The Kickstarter-funded "Bladepad" for ios devices and the xperia play both have this quality. Very few people want to carry a second slab of hardware when their smartphone is a Jack of all trades. Why fork out 50 dollars for a seperate gaming pad when you can pick up a used ds or psp for peanuts? attaching a seperate controller via a clip and calling it "mobile gaming" is like gluing a camera to a mobile phone and calling it a "camera phone" (a-la "flight of the concords").

    4. The games must be optimised for hdmi out play. Even my Galaxy Note 2 seems unable to keep the frame rate up when displaying some games on my telly via the official Samsung smart Dock.

    5. official hardware must be released. Google needs to kickstart the hardware movement by releasing and supporting an official Android gamepad.

    6. improving compatibility. If mice and keyboards work fairly well across the whole os landscape, why not gamepads? I suspect the reason is that Google and the phone companies still think that making phones into pcs is more important than making them into consoles/home media solutions.