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Amazon to Launch Sub-$300 Console

Everyone wants a piece of the console pie. Looks like Amazon is next to try and cut off a slice.

By Pete Davison. Published 2 months ago

The console space isn't just about "the big three" any more -- besides Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, there are a significant number of other players in town.

One area which seems to be trying desperately for growth but which is presently struggling for mainstream appeal is that of Android-powered devices specifically designed with gaming and entertainment in mind. Whether a microconsole like the Ouya or a handheld device like Nvidia's Shield, these consoles are often a good idea in principle, but in reality the practicalities of them are yet to be refined to make them palatable to the masses.

Retail giant Amazon is the next to step into this currently ill-defined market, according to sources who spoke with our friends at VG247. The device, which is aiming for a sub-$300 price point, is an Android-powered console that will offer both streaming and downloadable games, music, movies and TV content. The base unit's prototype is reportedly similar in size and form factor to the newer model PSones, though that may well change as the device gets closer to an official launch.

Amazon's Kindle Fire HD has done well enough in the crowded tablet market to justify its continued existence. Can Amazon follow it up with a successful microconsole?

It makes a certain amount of sense for Amazon to pursue this angle, since it already has a substantial digital marketplace that offers a variety of digital content ranging from music to Android apps and e-books. The company has seen some success with its Kindle and Kindle Fire portable devices, which are specifically designed to leverage Amazon's digital infrastructure and encourage users to primarily get their content from Amazon and its partners.

According to job listings, Amazon is also actively recruiting for positions in its games development team. While Amazon's own games to date have primarily been throwaway, forgettable mobile fare, some of the job listings suggest that the studio is aiming to step its game up a little with more high-quality games spanning "real-time next-gen graphics to pre-rendered assets" in terms of visuals.

The difficulty Amazon will face is in convincing people that an Android microconsole hooked up to their TV is a worthwhile investment -- something which platforms such as Ouya and Gamestick have so far failed to do. And although a sub-$300 price tag will make whatever Amazon has planned competitive price-wise when compared to the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Wii U, it'll need to offer a hell of a lot more than upscaled mobile games to justify that cost. It remains to be seen whether or not this works out well for Amazon -- the company certainly has a huge existing customer base to attempt to leverage, but a microconsole is still a much harder sell than the inherently more portable nature of tablets and e-readers.

The best community comments so far 8 comments

  • metalangel 2 months ago

    Is anyone reminded of the start of the 32-bit CD-based era when likewise everyone suddenly wanted in? Nintendo and Sega were faced with Commodore, Philips, 3DO, Fujitsu... and Sony (whose mention was followed in Gamepro by 'no baloney!', but then hindsight is the only perfect science)

    I'm not sure if yet another way to play Android games is really needed.

  • Funny_Colour_Blue 2 months ago

    @metalangel "Is anyone reminded of the start of the 32-bit CD-based era when likewise everyone suddenly wanted in? Nintendo and Sega were faced with Commodore, Philips, 3DO, Fujitsu... and Sony."

    Definitely. What saved Sony - at least in my mind - were well established IPs like Final Fantasy and Street Fighter migrating to other systems, but at a lower price tag.

    It's hard to say whose going to remain on top when those very same IPs that have made these consoles so popular are now either dead or dying.

    I would very much like for a new console to emerge out of the market. One that's more user friendly and not as cumbersome or restrictive as Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have become.

    We've bought these consoles, we should be able to use them as we see fit. Instead of companies dictating to us, in what way we can actually use them.

  • docexe 2 months ago

    There were rumors before about Amazon planning to introduce a microconsole. I will reserve judgment until I see it, but if they continue the same path as the other microconsoles of mostly offering ports of mobile games with hardware of dubious quality; I doubt it will be successful.

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