Sorry, couldn’t resist the Star Wars reference… As the story of Xbox One and PlayStation 4 unfolds, we’ve kept up-to-date here on The Ultimate Gamer Blog. With the launch of these two giants now just a few short weeks away, the office has been considering newcomers and potential contenders that are hopeful for a slice of the console market cake (or is that just a lie created by a diabolical machine?).
Mobile gaming has changed the landscape in the industry, helping countless millions to get in touch with their inner gamer; people that may have otherwise been left in a sad, morbid darkness, missing out on the fun. But mobile gaming is now very much in the living room and more serious gamers are geared up for the likes of Oculus Rift and Valve’s Steam Machine. Let’s take a look at the newcomers and see how they’re doing.
We’ll start with the Ouya because it’s already here. Resembling a sound bite from Streets of Rage, the Ouya is the first stand-alone console rope bridge constructed between mobile gaming and the living room LCD TV. The tiny, sleek box houses an Nvidia Tegra 3 GPU, 1GB RAM and 8GB of storage space. Enjoying smartphone gaming content on a whopping flat screen TV is of course, awesome; just one reason why HDMI integration with smart phones is so popular.
But early reviews report some flakiness. Gaming performance is notably inconsistent between less demanding 2D and more demanding 3D titles. The interface is difficult to organize (especially as many of the games are free to try, so your library builds up quickly) and the controller is apparently clunky and a little uncomfortable. All in all, the Ouya seems like a slightly unfinished attempt at what’s actually a very good idea. Is it only a matter of time before somebody does a better job?
Mad Catz M.O.J.O
Well, maybe they already have. Whilst the Ouya only cost you $100, more money will bag you a Mad Catz M.O.J.O when it’s released sometime soon. At $250, it’s a considerable living room gaming investment if you already have a console in your stack and/or a Samsung Galaxy in your pocket. So, what’s on offer for the cash?
The tiny box packs a greater punch than the Ouya, boasting an Nvidia Tegra 4 GPU and 2GB of RAM with a 16GB storage capacity to boot. More space is also an option with a micro-SD port supporting 128GB cards.
There’s a little speculation that the improved horsepower could bring the possibility for streaming gaming content from PCs, but it’s not confirmed this stage. Rather than a flaky proprietary store interface, the M.O.J.O can access both Tegra Zone and Google Play.
Moreover, rather than a slightly awkward controller, it’s got a gamepad that’s been made by a manufacturer of with a pedigree in professional-level gaming peripherals. It might be over double the price, but the extra dollars certainly seem to be justified.
Steam Box & Oculus Rift
Okay, so the Oculus Rift isn’t a console, but it could play an important part in the console market war stories as they unfold. For example, Valve has openly backed the Rift from the start, giving it compatibility with existing titles including Team Fortress and Half Life and also Source SDK support. (You may also be interested in the HMZ-T3 3D)
Another interesting point is that Gears of War developer; Cliff Bleszinski thinks the Rift “could eventually be its own platform”. He also believes the Valve’s Steam Box and the Rift represent the real next of generation gaming rather than all the triple-A consoles and games. It’s not love all around though. Oculus chief technology officer and co-founder of ID software John Carmack says that the Steam Box’s future could be “dicey”. We’ll have to see how things pan out.
The Steam Box itself will run a Linux-based operating system called SteamOS. The hardware is reported to come in three different flavors comprising of Intel Core i3-i7 CPUs and a range of fully fledged Nvidia graphics cards. Valve has also released an interesting looking controller featuring to touch sensitive track pads which supposedly is a more realistic replacement for the mouse and keyboard. That’s a big deal for PC gamers. If it’s actually good that is….
Many are skeptical about the Steam Machine, but given Valve’s impeccable track record and deep veteran-level involvement with the gaming industry, it’s difficult not to have faith in Gabe Newell and the team to pull it off. If one thing is certain, it’s that there will be some interesting twists and turns in the consoles wars in the upcoming year or two.