There are more than a few independent game systems being released. One of these is a console that fits in the palm of your hand. We recently caught up with the creators of Gamestick and they had this to say.
When you think of gaming on a console the one thing you never think of is portability. Unless it is a handheld system you don’t think about lugging your PS3 or Xbox 360 around. However, it seems more and more independent consoles are being released. The creators of the GameStick are releasing a new console and it all fits within the palm of your hand. We recently caught up Anthony Johnson, the Chief Marketing Officer of Playjam, and asked him these questions about his up and coming console:
GEEK: Please tell us a bit about yourself
Anthony Johnson: I am a great believer in disrupting established practices wherever appropriate which has led to both success and failure in my time. I am incredibly excited about GameStick and where that will take the PlayJam team – we’re on to something.
What got you into the video game business?
Pure chance. My background is in working with early to mid-phase start-ups and an investor in PlayJam who I worked with put me in touch just as the business was looking to stake a dominant position within the emerging Smart TV gaming sector. It was the first time I had worked in the Video Game Industry, but then my background is extremely colorful having worked in travel, IT, and business intelligence sectors too! In each case I was part of an initially small team looking to change the status quo in that sector. It’s been fun!
Tell us a bit more about the GameStick.
GameStick came out of PlayJam’s core desire to bring affordable gaming to TV. The company had done so very successfully in the past having built a platform that delivered over 1 billion games across Pay TV networks globally over a number of years before it was sold in 2001. In 2010 the company was re-acquired by it’s founder, Jasper Smith, as he saw huge potential in emerging Smart TV technology which offered a way to massively scale TV gaming solutions by working with the dominant CE manufacturers, (Samsung, LG, Sony & Panasonic) to add our games platform to the hundreds of millions of devices they ship each year. This we did successfully and today operate the largest Smart TV games network.
We remained frustrated with the pace at which this technology, in terms of it’s ability to support the kind of rich games we were desperate to power but also in terms of the disparate technology that these players were using – it was a little like the mobile wars with proprietary platforms that made it difficult, (though not impossible) to create a seamless games network. We see Android as the solution to this problem – as it was for many of the phone manufacturers – and therefore rather than wait about for that to transpire naturally, we thought we would do it ourselves by adding support for Android to our platform and building our own hardware. We started with a set top box concept but then thought it would be cool if we could make the console portable so worked to shrink the form factor down to the size of a USB stick and fit it into the back of it’s own controller for transportation.
The device is powered by an ARM Cortex dual core CPU and Mali 400 GPU, both of which more than capable of running today’s Android games. The Stick will come with 8GB of memory in board with expansion via an SD Micro Card slot for a further 32GB. The device officially supports up to four controllers, (although we have had 8 connected at once) and supports the standard Bluetooth HID configuration meaning you can use other such controllers that you might have lying about such as Nyko’s.
What makes this system different?
Price, portability, provenance, positioning and platform. (Sorry – too much coffee this morning). We’re currently the most affordable Android games console out there, (and genuinely profitable at the hardware layer); we believe we have the most portable dedicated TV games console on the market; we boast years of experience in delivering casual TV gaming solutions; we know who we are targeting and we have tried and tested technology to achieve our stated mission to bring affordable gaming to TV.
What market does this system advertise to?
The casual to mid-core market. We’re not going after the AAA crowd – we cannot possibly compete with the experience of a Sony Playstation today but we know for a fact that there is a much larger and rapidly growing market out there of gamers who have re-discovered their love of play thanks in no small part to the smart phone revolution, who love to play the type of beautiful games that GameStick can and will support. Just as importantly there has been a quantum shift in the game developer eco-system that has seem a meteoric rise in the number of Independent studios packed with talent to support this renaissance with amazing yet highly affordable content.
Are there going to be any system exclusives for the GameStick?
We’re working on it and will have a number of announcements shortly. We’re actively working on hundreds of ports and have well over a thousand developers registered with us.
What are some of the add-ons available for the GameStick?
We launched GameStick on Kickstarter earlier this year. We were not prepared for the sheer volume of feedback we received – this was invaluable to us and instrumental in helping us shape the final product. One of the most popular requests we had was for support for peripheral hardware such as mice and keyboards so that people could use GameStick as a media centre or generally hack it for their own purposes. Supporting additional hardware was always going to be a challenge with a 3inch long device so we came up with the GameStick Dock as an optional extra. This provides a number of things: It houses and powers the stick should your TV be fixed to the wall with hard to reach inputs; support for peripheral hardware via it’s 2 USB ports; an ethernet port for faster download speeds; an additional SD slot supporting an additional 64GB of memory and the ability to charge the controller simply by resting it on the top. From a software perspective – we’re working very closely with the guys over at XBMC to create a bespoke version of their media player on GameStick. Early versions of this build has seen us able to send a movie from iTunes to the stick over Airplay. We are looking at how to support Chromecast in a similar fashion. These are exciting developments that we hope will broaden the appeal of GameStick massively.
How much is this system going to cost?
$79.99 and the games will average just $2.99. Affordable big screen gaming.
Where will I be able to buy this system?
GameStop, Amazon, GAME and the Source initially from September 30th, (pre-order currently available), with a full scale roll out scheduled shortly after launch.
So with an Android based platform, a competitive price point and the best in portability all that remains to be seen is if the gamers will bite. Would you purchase a new console that supports Android? Do you think this new console will be as successful as the Ouya? Let us know in the comments section below!
Images via Gamestick.tv