Oct 10, 2013
Next-gen consoles? Please. Micro-consoles are all the rage now.
Mad Catz are now joining the competition in providing an alternative to mainstream consoles. You’ll remember Mad Catz; the makers of the controllers you’d get given at your mates house whilst they hogged the official gamepad. Well, now their hardware expertise has led to the M.O.J.O, set to launch December 10th, just after the launch of Microsoft and Sony’s next consoles.
Ouya looks set to be threatened, first with the Gamestick, and now the M.O.J.O. So what sets this micro-console aside from the competiton? Mad Catz explains that it supports various storefronts, such as Google Play, Nvidia Tegra Play, or the Amazon Appstore. This contrasts with the Ouya, which disallows the Google Play Store, instead opting for a closed store interface.The specifications are also higher than it’s main rivals, with a Nvidia Tegra 4 T40S 1.8GH Processor, 2gb RAM, 5.1 channel surround sound support, 1080p HDMI out, 16gb internal storage, WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0. It seems you get a lot of hardware for a micro-console.
The issue then, is the price. The RRP is £219.99, which is dramatically higher than the retail of the Ouya, which is priced at £99.99. The choice to spend over double on an Android gaming platform may be one people would reconsider. Aside from this, there are many phones out there that can outperform the Ouya. With rumours speculating that the new Nexus 5 may outstrip the performance of the new iPhone 5S, and probable new entries from the Samsung Galaxy series soon, and perhaps a Nexus 10 announcement, perhaps the M.O.J.O’s specs will be beaten by mobile devices soon.
There are other features which make it quite tempting however; such as a Bluetooth controller (reminiscent of an Xbox gamepad), which includes a mouse mode. However, when most Android games are currently aimed for touch-screen devices, the usage of this seems restrictive. The console can also run vanilla Android, meaning that gamers will be able to run any software they please; although this most likely won’t appeal to a casual userbase, that micro-consoles would normally seek. Mad Catz have also teased the fact it could run or stream PC software, due to it’s open source nature, so could be crossing into Steam Machine territory.
Despite the high price, and questionable features, there is no doubt this is a high-end Android gaming device, with top notch specs. If Android micro-consoles do catch on, this could be a high contender to run the more demanding applications. And with Mad Catz already having made a name for themselves in the recent past, this branding could prove more effective than the problems and controversy the Ouya has faced. There is still no clear King of the micro-console market, so perhaps Mad Catz could be onto something.
There is still the issue of what Apple have lined up, with recent gaming enhancements to their OS and Store. And also, PS Vita TV is soon to be released in Japan, and perhaps in the West shortly after, which would be very stiff competition for lesser-known consoles, especially with a price-tag like the M.O.J.O. For an extra £130, you can own a PlayStation 4, set to be the most powerful console to date, running the latest AAA titles. This is sure to cross gamers minds. Current-gen bundles are around £200, with a huge backlog of quality games. The question is whether the Android market has enough quality games to justify splashing out £219.99.
Whether the micro-console is set to have a huge impact on the industry, or public opinion, is still yet to be seen. However, this trend is undeniable, with multiple budget consoles being released over the last year. The Ouya has been little other than underwhelming, and this Mad Catz entry seems a little too keen for the micro-console world, as a Wii U costs a similar price. If the right hardware and price can be struck, then the company could be onto a winner. No doubt it is still a great time to be developing games for the Android platform, with so may options and devices available.