Google I/O 2014: How Android TV Drives A New Breed Of Console Gaming

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Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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Google I/O 2014: How Android TV Drives A New Breed Of Console Gaming

It could easily be forgiven for many to think that mobile gaming is mobile gaming, and console gaming is console gaming, and never the twain shall meet. But that's a line that's become increasingly blurry over the last couple of years, starting with things like the Ouya console. Now, the 900 pound gorilla has entered the fray, and Google—at its I/O developers' conference--showed off how the living room was about to get a big new shot of mobile gaming with Android TV.

Android TV, which got its big announcement at the I/O show, is less a product like the Amazon Fire TV box and more a platform, able to accommodate a variety of vendors who want to build the technology directly into other products. That includes televisions, of course, but can also be seen to extend to Blu-ray players or even an outright set-top box like those offered by Razer, a company already well-known for its connection to gaming. Android TV won't be just about games, of course, as users will be able to run Android apps in general, but the big news for our purposes is the gaming.

Android TV will start hitting devices later this year, so chances are Google will be able to get one of these under Christmas trees or at least as part of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa celebrations, giving it something of an edge in the market. But Android TV is going to have to share said market with a lot of potential competitors, which means that Google will be in for a bit of a fight as it, for once, is coming late to the party.

For gamers, of course, this opens up a panoply of new options, and actually does so in a fashion that makes it more immediately viable. Now, instead of having to put out the psychological commitment to a game system, it can just come as part of the television or similar peripheral. In fact, it might well help to drive some business toward particular breeds of peripheral; I'm buying a Blu-ray player anyway, the line of logic might go, so why not buy this one that lets me play Android games too? The term “Blu-ray player” can be replaced with the peripheral of choice, of course, but the end result remains the same; Android games can be regarded as an added value for just about any breed of hardware that brings said system into play.

It's odd to think of video games being used as a promotional item, but it's not so far out of line. Games involving licensed characters have been around almost as long as gaming itself, and as marketing has advanced, so too has the idea of the licensed character in games. Just consider Burger King's entries into the gaming field with things like “Sneak King” or the like. But this looks like it will prove to be a great value for gamers, especially given how many gamers are consumers of other home media. It will also likely give Google an edge in the field over the various competitors it will have walking in, and that means Android TV may just be a bigger deal than expected.