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Daily Reaction: The GameStick vs a Stick

January 4, 2013 Written by Dan Oravasaari

With the success of the Ouya on Kickstarter, it seems the viability for launching a console on through fundraising is becoming a growing trend as the GameStick has just about doubled its target goal of $100k. So will the USB-sized Android-powered console become bigger than the Ouya? Or will it become just another fad to drop off after it launches? Daily Reaction discusses below.

Dan: I remember when we first talked about the viability of the Ouya on Daily Reaction, and how it really is an interesting proposition with a number of hurdles that will ultimately lead to its death. The GameStick is another Android platform that is following in the footsteps set by the Ouya, by launching on the pubfund website Kickstarter. It allsows open development to once again ‘revolutionize’ the industry with an ultra portable Android console.

The first and most obvious issue I have with the GameStick, is that it is by far the ugliest thing I have seen in ages. The console is little more than a HDMI stick that uses its controller to house it. Which means that the console by design falls mainly down to the look and feel of the controller, which will now have a giant hole in it when you remove the attached HDMI stick to play your games. On top of the fact that it’s probably off-weight  due to the new empty hole in it, it looks like a shitty beta version of the NES controller. It’s a rounded box with staggered analogs that looks like it designed by a 5 year old who wanted to see what a controller would look like if it was the unwanted child of the NES and 360 controller.

As well as the design currently being a disaster, the market for an Android based gaming device is already being led by the Ouya – an actual console that has already successfully launched on Kickstarter, which raised over 8.5 million dollars, and only costs $20 more. While the GameStick still has time to reach the pubfund market, it really seems to be more of a reach to grab anyone who feels like they missed out on the Ouya hype. Also, the portability is an interesting concept, but how often do you really need to bring a console to someone else’s house so that you actually need to have it be no bigger than a controller.

Seb: I’m getting tired of all this GameShtick. How the hell did this make money? I’m still surprised at the stupidity of some people. First off, if you really want something like this, then get the Ouya – at least its controller a) doesn’t look terrible and b) has a touchscreen as all Android games are touch focused.

This brings nothing over the Ouya, other than that it’s a tiny bit smaller (OMG), and we’re not even that excited about the Ouya as it is.

So on the Kickstarter, it says:

There are over 1,416,338,245 TVs in the world but less than 1% of them are used to play games! Crazy.

Ok, that’s either downright, mind-numbingly, embarrassing-for-the-education-system-ly stupid, or they’re purposely misrepresenting figures. First off, most of those are probably still CRTs without HDMIs, and the majority of people simply aren’t into gaming. Don’t buy into the silly hype.

What they also don’t immediately tell you is that it only runs off of the HDMI if you have a MHL compliant TV (you probably don’t), otherwise you need to plug it into the USB port as well… and if you don’t have that you have to use a power adapter. Portability!

250 developers being on board isn’t as big a deal as it sounds because this is an Android platform. Porting across is very simple, so developers just tick a box saying “sure, I might support it” and then their name gets added to a big list that’s banded around by PlayJam, just like how Sony banded around dubious dev support numbers for the Vita.

Because it’s Android, you’re not going to see games on it that aren’t on all the Android tablets and phones. That means most games won’t look that good on a TV, or have physical controllers in mind.  Plus, if you really, really, really want mobile games on your TV, get a phone/tablet that has a HDMI cable or get an iPad and Apple TV and use AirPlay.

This isn’t a new idea, Ouya does it, your phone does it, this other terrible stick does it. It’s nice to think someone can come along and turn the industry on its head, but these guys can’t. Valve probably can, but PlayJam can’t.

Along with GameStick, PlayJam works with games on Smart TVs, but recent data suggests that most people aren’t buying into Smart TVs, and those that do aren’t using the Smart options. By the looks of it, they’re trying to quickly raise revenue on something else. This is a step back in gaming, anyone who buys it will play Android games that can’t even be too big as they need to fit on the 8GB stick and are designed with mobiles in mind. You’re wasting 80 bucks that would be better spent elsewhere.

“Oh but Seb, you’re only saying this because you’re privileged enough to be able to afford a PS3, you don’t understand what it’s like for truly poor people (who apparently have HDTVs)”. Fair enough, the PS3 is a hefty investment, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy this. Get a PS2 for $99 or $50 used and you’ll be able to play way more quality games, or even get an original Xbox refurb for $50.

Or get a stick, it’s free.

Do you think the Android market can really support stand alone consoles? Would you rather have an Ouya or a GameStick? Let us know in the comments, or by pubfunding us on Kickstarter at Dan and Seb.

Be sure to email DR ideas, podcast comments and funner things to do with a stick to DailyReaction@PlayStationLifeStyle.net.