The lights are on
you’re convinced you want to get Android games on your TV, then the
Ouya isn’t the only option. Game Stick could give the Ouya a run
for its money. I got my hands on the system during a recent GDC event
and I think the system has potential, but I wonder if the little device
has staying power.
One of the system’s big selling points is its $79 price. One of the most worrisome problems with
the system is its controller (pictured). While I appreciated the Game
Stick’s unique modern design, I found it uncomfortable, and
I’m sure that players will get hand cramps after using the boxy thing
for a few hours.
The stick itself is a little larger than a USB
thumbdrive and plugs into one of your TVs HDMI ports via a detachable remote dongle. While the
system runs Android 4.0, not every game on Google’s Play store will work
for the system, since many games on the store require a touch screen.
However, Game Stick has done a good job of working with developers and
curating its store to include some great gaming options. I played games
like Vector and Towelfight 2 on the Game Stick and was impressed with
how well both games played using a controller. Netflix is also supported
on the system if you don’t already have one of the 14,543 devices that
already support Netflix.
The Game Stick’s UI is fairly simple
with cross bars that show Featured games as well as new titles just like
you’re familiar with in most online stores these days (check out the UI
trailer above). Players will be able to create a profile page that
tracks their achievements and friends as well. Still, for my money, I’d
rather spend $20 more on the Ouya and get a controller that doesn’t
require a hand massage after a night of gaming.
One of my biggest
annoyances with the system is the fact that any purchase you’ve already
made on Google Play will not transfer over to the Game Stick. This
system features a separate store, so you’ll have to buy all of the games
you’ve already purchased all over again. However, if you do have a game
on your phone that you’d like to play on your TV, the Game Stick offers
the opportunity to wirelessly stream that game from your phone onto
your TV through the Game Stick, so maybe you won’t need to purchase
those titles again. Still, it would be nice if you could share save data
between all your Android devices.
The problem that the Game Stick
(and the Ouya) face is how heavily developers will support controller
based gaming on Android. I love the fact that the Game Stick is only $79
and therefore isn’t a big commitment, but I have trouble imaging a
world where these types of machines overtake Microsoft, Sony, and
Nintendo’s offerings. If there is space in the market for both Android
consoles and other AAA platforms like the PS3, 360, and Wii U, we’ll
have to wait until late April when the Game Stick launches to find out.
Email the author Ben Reeves, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.