I think Android consoles are a spectacular idea. I love the idea of Ouya and GameStick and both systems will definitely open up the gaming world to new audiences who would normally be dissuaded by console and software costs. However, I think the Ouya’s success means the GameStick will fail even though its Kickstarter was funded in under two days. The Ouya’s early start and accessibility will leave the GameStick dead on arrival.
First, the Ouya will be here first. The dev consoles have already been sent out and the consumer Ouyas are scheduled to ship in April 2013. The GameStick Playjam team claim their console will be out in April 2013 as well, but they don’t even have a final pre-production sample yet. No GameStick dev consoles have been sent out. Anything can happen in that period of time and who knows if the final pre-production sample and final quality control testing will go well. The Ouya’s head start will be part of what gets it into people’s hearts and heads.
Some people may argue that it’s the price that will make the difference. I don’t think it will have that big an influence on buyers. The Ouya is $99 and the GameStick is $79. It’s only a $20 difference. I’ve been hearing Ouya buzz throughout 2012, but only just heard a few quiet rumblings about the GameStick. I’d consider that extra $20 worth the investment since I know the Ouya has the support behind it.
Speaking of support, we know that 1,200 Ouya dev consoles have been shipped out. Developers have them and are working with them right now. Major companies, like Square Enix, and minor developers, like Madfinger Games, have already confirmed they’re working on games for the system. There are even rumors of Minecraft getting ported to it. Not to mention it’s already confirmed to have TwitchTV and Vevo support showing it has a future as a media streaming device. All Ouya needs now is Netflix and Hulu behind it to be unstoppable.
GameStick’s Kickstarter page says Playjam has “identified 200 titles” that would be good on GameStick. It doesn’t say the company has already gotten those 200 games working with the system. There is no guarantee. It also claims it is working with over 250 developers, like Disney and Madfinger, but offers no specifics. It doesn’t specifically say something like, “Disney is bringing Where’s My Water? to GameStick.” where Ouya’s team could say Square Enix is bringing Final Fantasy to Ouya.
Then there’s the construction. This part of my argument is pure speculation, but I don’t have much confidence in the GameStick. I’m looking at the prototype model of the console and controller on the GameStick Kickstarter page and it reminds me of a cheap controller that came with my FC Twin console. I love that NES/SNES system, but the controllers feel like they’d break if dropped three feet onto a wooden floor. It doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence and I’m 80% sure that I’d find a way to lose the “console” portion of it because it slid out of that slot. I look at the Ouya videos and images and I feel like I’m looking at a real console. It looks well put together and like something that cost $99. I know it’s just a prototype, but the GameStick console looks like something on which you’d spend $30 or $40.
I’ll admit that I could be wrong. It’s still early days for the GameStick. It even reached its funding goal of $100,000 within two days. I can’t help but have more faith in the Ouya. The Ouya has the dev kits out there, the ODK immediately available for more developers, a solid launch window and a more substantial looking console. Even though it is slightly more expensive, I think it’s already gathered enough consumer confidence to defeat the GameStick.