Earlier today, word emerged around Google's purchase of Green Throttle Games, a studio that had two key parts of a gaming equation right under one roof. But this newest bit of news joins a wider coalition of facts that suggests some very big things ahead for Google, and in particular, Microsoft may want to watch out.
Green Throttle Games offers up both the Android Arena—an app that allows users to turn an Android powered tablet or smartphone into what amounts to a small gaming console driven by Android games—and the Bluetooth Atlas controller, a device specifically geared toward controlling such games. It was a reasonable enough concept—give gamers an opportunity to play games, console-style, pretty much anywhere said gamers happened to be—and though it didn't quite work out for Green Throttle Games, it may work out very nicely indeed for Google.
See, the problem wasn't so much one of technology, but seemed to be more one of market. For Google, however, having such technology on hand would be a huge part of a new all-in-one set-top box that could be a rival for most anything on the market, including Microsoft's new Xbox One
. We all know that Google has access to easily one of the biggest content sources on the face of the earth in YouTube, and we also know that it's generally a bit cumbersome to get YouTube content on a television with anything less than actually hooking up a PC to a television. That's recently changed, at least somewhat, with Google's introduction of the Chromecast
, and that's one of the big points that may be pushing this development.
The idea of a Google set-top box isn't exactly a new one, but what if Google were considering a real all-in-one piece for that set-top box? With the addition of the Green Throttle Games material, plus the functionality of Chromecast, the content sources of YouTube and Google Play, and a few minor tweaks in between, we could be looking at a set-top box that offers a staggering amount of features, and puts it right on par with the bigger names in the field like Microsoft and like Sony's PlayStation 4
Naturally, Android games aren't really going to be able to hold a candle to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One games. “Angry Birds” isn't on par with “Knack,” let alone “Titanfall.” But the rise of casual and mobile gamers, and games to match, may well be just the catalyst Google needs to bring out a complete gaming alternative, complete with the ability to get in content from all over the Web including the Holy Grail of content in YouTube. Priced competitively, it might even provide a real “budget alternative” sort of package and allow it to not only easily compete in the Android console market, but also in the wider console gaming market besides.
There are some drawbacks to this approach. The quality of the games may be an issue, so too the idea that Google may be offering a set-top box that can pretty much do anything an Android tablet can do for more money but with better controls. But with a little work in either of those sectors, Google might well have a real winner in this field, and that's the kind of thing that Google can scarcely pass up. This might be a complete living room alternative—the exact kind of thing Microsoft wanted all along—and that may be the best news Google could ask for.