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Amazon Fire TV…destined to go up in smoke?

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What’s Amazon Fire TV?

Amazon recently announced it’s entrance into the growing set top box streaming scene with the Amazon Fire TV, obviously named after the KindleFire line of tablets. At first glance the Amazon Fire  TV is your standard streaming device. The set-top box offers your typical selection of streaming applications like Hulu and Netflix in addition to some more obscure selections like Crackle and Huffpost live. While still missing some subscriptions, namely HBO GO, it is still ahead of the game with access to the Amazon App Store.  A marketplace isn’t the only thing that separates Amazon Fire Tv from the crowd, the set top box also function as an android powered gaming device, similar in  many ways to the Ouya. Amazon Fire TV costs $99 and is currently available for purchase on Amazon.com.

Wait it plays games?

Graphics Qualcomm Adreno 320
Processor Qualcomm Krait 300, quad-core 1.7 GHZ 
Ram 2 GB LPDDR2
Storage 8 GB internal
Dimensions 4.53 × 4.53 × 0.69 in
Weight 9.9 oz

Amazon Fire TV promises to be faster than the competition and have better graphics than other android based micro systems like the Ouya. With the hefty tech specs this promise won’t be to hard to keep. The Amazon Fire TV boasts a Quad core processor and a dedicated GPU to help keep the games running smooth and looking great. The amazon fireTV uses HDMI to connect to the television and many games are  even graphically enhanced to look better when they are loaded on the Amazon Fire TV, which in it’s self is amazing.

The amazon fireTV’s $99 price point includes the standard television remote control which can be used for some games, but for a far better gaming experience you’re going to want tin invest in an actual gaming peripheral. If you don’t already have a bluetooth or USB controller you can purchase amazons own controller which unlike the set top box won’t be shipping until around May 11th. This is only optional since fireTV is compatible with  any blue tooth or USB controller.

Speaking of Games…

amazon-fire-tv-game-controllerAlthough the console part of the amazon fireTV seems like it was just thrown in, Amazon isn’t exactly putting it on the back burner. In fact, some time before Amazon even announced the fireTV Amazon acquired Double Helix Studios, the studio that made games like Killer Instinct and Strider. The purchase of Double Helix included both staff and Intellectual Property, in other words we may be seeing Killer Instinct on the Amazon fireTV before long.

Along with access to games developed as exclusives for the Amazon fireTV, almost every game on the Amazon App Store is playable on the Amazon fireTV. While the market for set top boxes is quickly getting congested , Amazon fireTV seems to have just enough of an edge to really plant some roots. I personally can’t wait to see whats in store.

 

Ouya: Free The games!

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Ever since the OUYA was announced that faithful day on Kickstarter, its main stance was one about freedom – both software and hardware wise. While the system didn’t exactly deliver on this promise when it came to hardware, the people at OUYA are desperately trying to deliver on the software aspect of this promise.

While not exactly perfect, OUYA‘s Free the Games Fund is definitely a step in the right direction. Announced in July of 2013 the Free the Games Fund is a pretty straight forward way to get your game onto the OUYA. The developer starts  a Kickstarter campaign following some guidelines put in place by OUYA. If said campaign attains its goal, of at least $10,000, the people at OUYA will match the money raised, up to $250,000. While this sounds pretty attractive it isn’t totally free. Titles funded by OUYA must not be on any  mobile device, video game console, or set-top box besides the OUYA for a 6 month period. This 6-month period doesn’t apply to  Linux, Mac OS, or Windows so developers are free to release their games on those platforms immediately.towerfallj

The Free the Game Fund hit the scene pretty hard but was almost immediately plagued by scandals. Developers found ways to exploit the system by putting loads of their own money into their campaigns in an attempt to get more money back from OUYA . There was even a case of a campaign being started under the name of a missing person, for no known reason. These scandalous happenings caused OUYA to change some rules about the fund,  eventually dropping the required funds raised from $50,000 to $10,000.

The Free the Games Fund is less than half way through it’s run, ending in August of 2014. There is really no telling what will come from the Free the Games Fund but hopefully a few good games will come from it. The only way to find out is to keep an eye on OUYA.


For more information check out : www.freethegamesfund.com Scroll to the bottom of the page to see some of the games that are part of Free the Games Fund.

Ouya: The games.

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The OUYA boasts a sizable game library considering how relatively new it is to the market. With its open source library and how easily it can be rooted, Emulators have found a permanent home on the OUYA. In fact, when you look at the top selling games for the system you’ll notice that a good number of them are emulators. While it imagescan’t play current gen games, it is still fun to see your old school emulators back on the television where they belong.

The biggest challenge the little system faces is finding support from developers. While the OUYA is a very interesting option, with none of the muck that can drag down an indie game on a big console, it still looks less lucrative than the big consoles. What it comes down to is the fact that PS3,Xbox360 and Wii have much larger audiences and have been on the scene far too long.

Even in the shadow of the 3 major systems OUYA still has some support from big names. Some believers.  Robert Bowling of Infinity Ward Announced an OUYA Exclusive game even before the system was released.  Bowling’s Human Element is set to be released in 2015. The game takes place 35 years after an event involving a zombie apocalypse. The game had so much online buzz that it was announced that there will be episodic prequels to the game on the OUYA, detailing the events up to the actual game.

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While Bowing’s studio, Robotoki, is one of few exclusives other major studios also took heed to the OUYA. Square Enix announced that FFiii would be made available as a launch title for OUYA. Namco Bandai also said they’d be bringing several games to the system. While these aren’t exactly exclusives the support of major developers is still a great stepping stone for the OUYA.

The biggest barrier between the OUYA and success is it’s game library. You can never have to many great games on a system, and thus far the OUYA seems to be suffering from a lack of them. WIth enough support from developers OUYA can, and will go very far.

Stay tuned for information about how OUYA is helping developers make great games for them.

 

Ouya: Whats inside

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At only 99 dollars the tech in the Ouya is nothing to be scoffed at. The tiny titan boasts a Quad-core 1.7 Ghz ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore and Nvidia Geforce ULP. While you aren’t going to see the amazing graphics and performance you get from the big three, it is still formidable considering the price point.

If the 8 GB of internal storage out of the box aren’t enough, you can always expand it with removable storage. Ouya displays via HDMI to a television and can support 1080p, 1080i and 720p depending on the games. A lot of reviews have complained about the quality of the remote controller, luckily the Ouya can work with XBOX 360 or PS3 controllers. The only catch is that the developer must allow it in the game.

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Ouya isn’t only for playing, every system can be used as a developer’s kit. The 2.95 inch cube can also easily be taken apart, since the screws are right on top of the device.

Although the system isn’t cutting edge when it comes to technology the price point is hard to beat. Most other devices with similar hardware run anywhere from $199 to around $400, and these devices aren’t dedicated gaming systems.

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Stay tuned to learn more about the Ouya, its games, and what it can offer to developers.

Ouya : The Indie Console

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Gaming has been around for around 40 years, starting in garages and basements as early as 1947. Video games didn’t really reach mainstream popularity until the 70’s and 80’s and has been growing ever since. Much like movies video games quickly became a part of everyday life for many different cultures. Also much like film, there is a very distinctive sub genre of gaming, indie gaming.

Indie gaming culture is rapidly growing and becoming a significant part of the very intricate gaming industry. Ouya has the unique opportunity to play a critical role in the Indie Gaming revolution. With no one to answer to but the fans, Ouya can flourish if they play their cards right.

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imagesOuya was created with two things in mind, indie games and developers. Ouya hit Kickstarter as a campaign to try and gauge how many people would be interested in the project. Over 29 days the console raised around 8.5 million dollars on the crowd-funding website Kickstarter, being the second most successful campaign in the websites history.  Ouya holds the record for the single best first day performance of any project ever hosted on kick starter, the little console attracting a backer roughly every 5.5 seconds.

Ouya’s charm comes in the form of just how open to creativity the entire entity is.  It runs on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and it can be rooted very easily. Julie Urman , Ouya’s founder, made it a point to stress the fact that the system is made to be modded. Rooting or modding the console is completely covered under the systems warranty.

The Ouya is freedom. Freedom for developers, freedom for modders, and freedom for gamers.

If the Ouya can overcome the big three and carve a niche in the indie market, it can grow into a force to be reckoned with.

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Lowkey Gaming will be focusing on the Ouya with a series of articles highlighting the system, it’s games, and some of the unique opportunities offered by Ouya.

Stay tuned for more information about Ouya.