Forget Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s next Xbox. Ignore Sony Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:SNE)’s PlayStation 4. Three other companies are hoping to disrupt the video game landscape this year with other, alternative consoles. For those on a budget, there’s the Ouya, a cheap cube running Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s Android operating system. Also this year, the first of the Steam Boxes should be available, bringing an alternative form factor to PC gaming. Lastly, NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA)’s Shield promises to shake up the mobile gaming landscape.
Cheap home gaming with the Ouya
The Ouya is a bit of a grassroots effort, raising funds from the website Kickstarter. With a $99 price tag, and digital-only distribution system, Ouya could appeal to gamers on a budget.
It should also entice tech enthusiasts, as it offers a cheap way to bring Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s mobile operating system to the big screen. Although the Ouya runs a forked version of Android — and thus does not have the Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) Play app store — hobbyists are already discussing ways to circumvent this limitation.
Developers won’t be able to bring Ouya games directly to the broader Android ecosystem (and vice-versa), but because Ouya runs a modified version of Android, porting games back and forth should be relatively easy.
Consequently, in the event the Ouya takes off, it could lead to more games appearing on Android — one of the operating system’s current weaknesses. Right now, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s iOS boasts a better selection of mobile games, but Ouya could help Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) narrow that gap.
Mobile gaming may not seem like a big deal, but it is. According to a Business Insider survey, two-thirds of tablets are used for playing games.
Steam Box: PC gaming with a twist
There’s long been a divide in the gaming community between those who game on their PCs, and those who prefer consoles. Although PC gaming has a number of advantages, it can be daunting.
PC games often require particularly powerful computers, which can be expensive unless the user builds the device themselves. This leaves many who are not technically inclined to stay away.
Enter Valve. The company, founded by a former Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) employee, is mostly known for its Steam digital game store — think iTunes, but for PC games. Steam is so popular that it has come to dominate the digital distribution of PC games. Now Valve wants to get into hardware.