Why is Amazon going into video games?By Kayvon Ghoreshi Earlier this week Amazon unveiled their newest product, the Fire TV, which is their foray into the home entertainment business. The Fire TV is an Android-based set top box and will compete directly with similar devices currently on the market such as Google’s Chromecast, Apple TV, and Roku. Amazon’s device will do more or less the same thing as its competitors by offering consumers a way to stream services like Hulu and Netflix to their TV. It will also have Amazon content, such as the Instant Video streaming service and consumer music libraries, in addition to third party music applications, such as Pandora and iHeartRadio. At the media event, Amazon noted some unique features compared to the current offerings, such as a remote control with a microphone for voice commands and unveiled some specs for the new device. Generally speaking, the Fire TV’s components are similar to that of a high end smartphone or tablet with a quad-core processor, a dedicated graphics processor and 2GB of RAM (the Apple TV has 512 MB by comparsison). This additional processing power is due to one of the more interesting, and rather odd, entertainment ventures for Fire TV: video games. Amazon’s Fire TV plans on letting consumers play games as well, even going so far as to offer an actual game controller as an accessory. In addition to developing their own games internally, Amazon announced that publishers like Disney, Gameloft, 2K, Ubisoft and Double Fine were on board with the new device. The gaming element makes the Fire TV somewhat of a so-called “microconsole,” in the same vein as the Ouya, an Android-based gaming console released last year at a similar price point ($99). While Amazon’s other features are worthwhile, I find it hard to believe that this gaming portion will be successful because the microconsole model has some fundamental flaws. At their event, Amazon showed off Sev Zero, one of the games available for the Fire TV developed by their internal game studio. To be frank, it was not impressive. The game looked and played like a generic third-person shooter and, graphically, it was clearly outmatched by Sony and Microsoft’s home gaming consoles. The games are only priced at a couple of dollars, which may make up for the quality, but this avoids a larger fundamental issue. The reality is that microconsoles pander to a niche that is simply too small for a successful business model. Mobile games are designed to be played a few minutes at a time, in correlation with when most people want to play games with their phone. Likewise, games on consoles like PS4 and Xbox One are larger, generally played for longer periods of time, and geared more towards people that want to sit on their couch and use a controller. Microconsoles offer this odd in between where the games are more fleshed out than “Candy Crush,” but still nowhere near the quality or depth of what you get from Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft. This is why the Ouya sold so poorly. People who already owned a major console saw it as inferior and casual gamers didn’t enjoy it enough to justify the price. Microconsoles are trying to appeal to this narrow niche of people that enjoy video games enough to want to play them in a traditional manner, but not enough to own a traditional console. Read the full article here: http://www.dailycampus.com/commentary/why-is-amazon-going-into-video-games-1.3157207
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