Would Amazon’s Android console be a smart move?

Friday, 9 August 2013 10:09 GMT By Dave Cook

Amazon is rumoured to be releasing an Android console soon. VG247’s Dave Cook ponders the rumours and asks if the industry really needs another box at market.

Word on the street is that Amazon’s Android console will launch before November’s Black Friday sales in the States.

The rumour broke last night and we’ve seen a mixed reaction from gamers so far. The big issue among the players seems to be the console’s position – Who is it targeting?

According to intrepid internet sleuth Superannuation the console has a core focus and is more than a mere set-top box that just happens to have Google Play access.

In fact, it’s been speculated that Amazon has been courting studios in a bid to try and get new content for the platform, suggesting that this is part of some bigger, deadly serious strategy from the retailer.

The company even has its own development team, so it seems likely that Amazon is going after keen gamers with a strong bank of IP and perhaps even some exclusives.

It really feels like there’s something big going on over at Amazon right now, but might this all be for naught? Until we know more it’s hard to say but word has it that the console will feature Google Play integration. Given the rampant level of games being pirated on Android rather than being bought via Google Play, it’s hard to see a viable proposition for developers.

Why would a studio that needs money to survive push its content out on a format where a high percentage of players will pirate the game for free? If this is going to work then Amazon would have to close the console off somehow to curb illegal downloads of games. At the same time however, this could sever one of the most appealing facets of the Android format – the homebrew scene.

Would such a console continue to allow independent game and app makers the freedom to make and push out their own content? Google doesn’t appear to be doing much to stop the wave of clones and emulators on its app store at present, which suggests it’s perfectly happy to allow this kind of activity to a degree.

Timing is also another factor. Would an Amazon-Android console get slaughtered at retail by the PS4 and Xbox 360? Would those dedicated PC, Mac and Linux scene look twice at the box or would they just stick with Steam and the Google Play titles on their Android phone?

My guess is that people may want to trade-up their Android experience for something more tangible and with a physical controller. I see a lot of people bemoan touch screen as the one thing stopping triple-a experiences truly hitting mobile formats.

I sense that all these particular people really want is two analogue sticks and ports of the same games they can get on other formats. That – to me – is dull. The point of touch screen is that it gives us new ways to play and fresh ideas that you can’t get on a pad-controlled game, but hey, that’s just me.

My concern is that an Amazon-Android box might be swarmed by piracy, fail to establish a strong bed of IP, be technically out-classed by next-gen consoles and the PC/Mac/Linux triumvirate and launch at the worst possible time.

Or maybe, just maybe some of us aren’t getting the appeal because we’re already converted to the core? Perhaps this rumoured box is being viewed as a bridge to those who play casually on their phone or tablet who want to grade-up to a full console experience.

I honestly don’t know, but there’s a few nagging thoughts that linger at present.

What do you think? Let’s get a chat going folks.

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