Is Amazon Fire TV Ready To Take On The Console Wars?

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Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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Is Amazon Fire TV Ready To Take On The Console Wars?

It's an interesting question, really...and one we have to ask since the unveiling of the Amazon Fire TV set-top box. Yes, Amazon's great foray into console gaming—at least, after a fashion—may not seem like much of an issue to the larger consoles, but is it able to compete at all?

The good news for the Amazon Fire TV system is that it's going to be backed up by the entire Amazon ecosystem. That means television and movies aplenty along with the video games, an increasingly common experience. The Amazon Fire TV's particular strength is in its ability to stream media, much in the same way that the Roku box, the Google Chromecast or the Apple TV system. Essentially, Amazon is pushing its system as a media streamer with—as vice president Peter Larson described—a “bonus.”

But this bonus won't be taken lightly. Amazon has some serious plans for its bonus that will shape up pretty well. Not only have they brought in some fairly major names--”Splinter Cell” designer Clint Hocking, as well as “Portal” designer Kim Swift are both in play, and word is that not only will “The Walking Dead Season Two” from Telltale Games hit the device, but so too will “Game of Thrones” and a pair of comedy trivia games from the guys behind “You Don't Know Jack.” For those who have never played “You Don't Know Jack”, it's a wonder of fun and laughs, all from a trivia game, a combination that might never have been foreseen.

This is quite a bit to keep track of. Amazon has a lot going into this package, but the problem here is that many of its offerings are almost identical to others already in the market. Yes, Amazon will have access to the massive Amazon infrastructure, but so too does the Xbox One, the PlayStation 4, and the rest of the market. Even as a set-top box, it's not offering much of anything that the Roku box and all the rest aren't already. There are some differences of course, and the big lesson here will be the lesson that the Wii U learned: it's all about the games.

Will a handful of titles be enough to gain ground sufficient to draw attention to Amazon's offering, with a host of others already in place? That's going to be a question that only time will provide the answer to. Certainly, Amazon is working to produce the exclusives that will be necessary to draw that attention, but Amazon will need plenty of those to keep the ball rolling. Amazon is walking into a very crowded field, and is going to have to fight particularly hard to land a sufficient stroke to hold out.

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