Set-Top Boxes and Cloud Gaming: Affordable Alternatives To Traditional Game Consoles
For as long as I can remember, home-based video gaming has always been the realm of just a few companies whose consoles dominated the desires of gamers. In the beginning it was Atari and Magnavox, with the 2600 and Odyssey, respectively. Today, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo all vie for their share of the home-based video gaming market share.
The past couple of years have seen a true shake up of the norm, with new technologies allowing more players to enter the arena in an effective way. A perfect example was the Ouya, an Android-based console that first made its debut in 2012. Unfortunately, due to production delays and mixed reviews, the Ouya was unable to make its mark.
A few other companies have recently begun to make serious inroads into developing set-top boxes that could truly give console gaming a fresh perspective. Let’s take a look!
Headlines over the past few days have shown that Google’s recent acquisition of Green Throttle Games could herald Google’s decision to jump into the set-top box arena. Green Throttle Games is the company behind the Atlas, a Bluetooth controller used to play the game, Arena. Insiders claim that this controller could be used to play games on Google’s own set-top box.
These games would be available in tandem with the Android TV system, which is currently available. At the time of this writing, only television, audio and movie content is available though Android TV. However, the acquisition of Green Throttle Games’ and their controller could change all that.
At the 2014 CES event (Consumer Electronics Show), Steam unveiled thirteen, different Steam Machines that are slated to make their appearance this year. Valve, the company behind the Steam service, has made deals with hardware giants, such as Alienware, Gigabyte and CyberPower. These machines will be run on Valve’s operating system, SteamOS.
Not all reception has been positive, however, with some industry leaders claiming that Steam machines are irrelevant and unnecessary. Reasons behind this range from butchered code to problems upgrading them.
Recent news in the set-top box arena has been dominated by Amazon’s announcement of the Amazon Fire system. Rather than solely playing video games, such as what a Steam Machine does, it combines video, audio and gaming content all in one package.
Some shortcomings currently exist that make the Amazon Fire more potential than polish. For example, it’s voice-search feature currently only runs though Amazon’s videos. Also, unless you own a Kindle HDX, you will be unable to use you tablet to control Amazon Fire.
There is no arguing the fact that online gaming in general, and cloud gaming in specific, is currently dominated by the “Big Three” console manufacturers and PC-based hardware. However, this could all change this coming yea with the release of new set-top boxes and improvements on ones currently available.
Would you be interested in using a set-top box for all of you cloud gaming activities? Let us know in the Comments section below!
By Joe Pellicone