Microconsoles have evolved from their humble beginnings as novelty devices to legitimate console contenders. The notorious Ouya debuted with a ton of potential, but unfortunately, like many gadgets that were the first of their kind (I’m looking at you Blackberry), it ultimately succumbed to challenges like a small game library. Since then, microconsoles have been on the rise, with offerings from MadCatz, Sony, Apple, and Amazon among others.
NVIDIA typically remains at the forefront of gaming with arguably the strongest GPUs available, Android NVIDIA’s Shield TV is primed to dominate, and completely change the microconsole landscape. The Shield TV is a set top box version of the Android tables counterpart. The slim, cable box-like Shield TV has an impressive spec list, making it capable of outputting 4k video, and running recent games like Witcher 3 in 1080p, 60 FPS flawlessly.
Aside from the powerful yet affordable ($199 USD) hardware, what sets the Shield TV apart is NVIDIA’s GeForce Now. Replacing the GRID game-streaming service, GeForce Now is a streaming service like Netflix or Amazon Prime for PC games. It allows instant access to a library of over 50 titles (I suspect that with console and service adoption, this will expand). It’s actually even easier than purchasing a game, physical or digital, and cheaper. For a mere $7.99 a month, users have access to a library of games to stream instantly.
At the end of June, GameFly announced a streaming service as well, initially available only on the Amazon Fire TV. In August, GameFly partnered with Samsung to bring its game-streaming to select smart TVs. The video game industry has blossomed since its inception, rising to prominence as one of the most popular forms of entertainment. Thus, these Netflix-esque streaming services are perfectly logical. With games like Oblivion, Witcher 3, and The Last of Us delivering cinema-like experiences, video games are essentially on par with the film and television industries. Microconsoles and game-streaming have loads of potential, with appeal for both casual gamers and hardcore players alike.