Tech companies large and small are using microconsoles to bring mobile gaming to the big screen.
As game development costs climb higher and higher, microconsoles are emerging as an alternative choice for smaller game publishers. These pint-sized devices typically connect to a TV and run a mobile OS, with support for Bluetooth game controllers.
Sweeten the deal with a lower price, and independent and mobile gaming may soon compete for living room space with the next generation of gaming consoles.
Microconsoles exploded into the industry consciousness with the mind-blowingly successful and ambitious OUYA Kickstarter, raising over $8.5 million on a $900,000 initial goal.
While the OUYA’s missteps are many and well documented (shipping issues, broken controllers, and an unpredictable PR department), this has not stopped other developers from seeking to build upon their idea.
The decision for the OUYA to use the Android (GOOG) operating system but not the accompanying Google store was questionable. This created a barrier for users as it meant that they could only play what had been ported over to the proprietary OUYA store.
Future microconsole developers have largely decided to correct this by tying their products to major online marketplaces.
Amazon (AMZN) and Google are two of the largest companies who have thrown their hats into the microconsole arena. Both will soon release their own models, connecting to their respective marketplaces. Existing and future Android games, as well as a powerful library of streaming media, will be available on a single, small and convenient piece of hardware.
Click on the interactive chart below to see price data over time.
Other microconsoles launching soon include the MadCatz (MCZ) MoJo and the NVIDIA (NVDA) Shield, who look to turn mobile gaming into a more hardcore endeavor. Both systems boast more powerful hardware (and higher prices) than contemporaries, and support products from the Google, Amazon, and iOS (AAPL) stores, as well as streaming of select PC games.
It may seem like everyone is releasing a microconsole, but a few recent announcements still shook up the gaming world. Sony (SNE) recently announced the November release of the PlayStation Vita TV in Japan.
This TV-top version of Sony’s Vita handheld console connects to the PlayStation Network Store. It allows downloading and streaming play of Vita and PlayStation 3 games and media, and will let PlayStation 4 owners stream PS4 games from their console to be played on the Vita TV.
The microconsole market is still in a speculative stage and it’s uncertain if some of the initial problems will be addressed in later hardware. Games that may work fine on a phone could prove awkward on a normal controller, and the market of people interest in playing Candy Crush Saga on a television may prove to be meager, at best.
We are also rapidly approaching a new generation of gaming consoles that might overshadow microconsoles with the quality of games and services offered.
Click on the chart below to see the yearly returns for these microconsole manufacturers over time.
Do you think there’s a spot in increasingly crowded living rooms for microconsoles? Use this list as a starting point for your own analysis.
1.Apple Inc. (AAPL, Earnings, Analysts, Financials):Designs, manufactures, and markets PCs, mobile devices, and digital music players, and sells related software and third-party digital content and apps worldwide. Market cap at $488.62B, most recent closing price at $531.91.
3. Mad Catz Interactive, Inc. (MCZ, Earnings, Analysts, Financials): A global provider of interactive entertainment products marketed under its Mad Catz® (gaming), Tritton® (audio), and Saitek® (simulation) brands. Market cap at $42.53M, most recent closing price at $0.67.
4. Sony Corporation (SNE, Earnings, Analysts, Financials): Designs, develops, manufactures, and sells electronic equipment, instruments, and devices for consumer, professional, and industrial markets worldwide. Market cap at $19.35B, most recent closing price at $19.14.
5. NVIDIA Corporation (NVDA, Earnings, Analysts, Financials): Provides visual computing, high performance computing, and mobile computing solutions that generate interactive graphics on various devices. Market cap at $9.01B, most recent closing price at $15.39.
(List compiled by George Tsemberlis. Stock prices and annual returns sourced from Zacks Investment Research. All other data sourced from Finviz.)
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Written by George Tsemberlis.
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