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Why Android gaming has not gone mainstream

The Ouya, Madcatz Mojo, Nexus Player, Gamestick, Fire TV, etc... All of these microconsoles have tried to find a place in the living room and have failed miserably.  It makes one wonder just how out of touch with reality the people who actually make these things are.  It really should not be that difficult to get the right combination of features to make these microconsoles more attractive to casual or even hardcore players.  Let's take a minute to see what some of the current issues are.


In a day and age where these microconsoles are attempting to lure gamers to purchase games solely via the cloud without a physical copy, the storage on these devices are pathetic.  Generally these consoles come with anywhere from 8gb to 16gb of storage.  Once you factor in the OS, and any additional software that comes with your console, you're looking at anywhere between 5gb to 12gb of storage if you're lucky.  With even Android games coming in at 2gb to 4gb, there is very little room to actually store your purchases.  No one wants to turn on their console, and then have to manage their storage to then wait for a game that is a few gigabytes large to download.  The minimum amount of storage for these systems should be in the 128gb range.  Personally, I'd say at least 500gb.  These are set top boxes, not tablets or phones.  The manufacturers can easily use cheap laptop hard drives in these consoles since people aren't going to be moving them around while playing with them. How this is not brought up at board meetings who want to sell as many units as possible, I'll never know.


Consoles such as the Madcatz Mojo are stock android and have on screen buttons taking up room on your TV.  Information online points to Madcatz themselves telling users to root their system to get rid of them.  The Ouya fares better in that its games are specifically tailored for the TV, but the search feature in the Ouya store is horrible, and needs a lot of work.


Somehow, when play testing the Ouya, someone forgot to mention that the metallic shell limits its bluetooth range and causes lag.  On Android TV, not all games are properly mapped for its controller.  If these things are missed during testing, then how competent are these consoles in regards to gaming?  Nintendo may not put out the most recent technology in its products, but their controls are always precise.  The Wii U pad literally streams game video and gameplay from the console itself to the Wii U pad, and does so without missing a beat.  Working controls should always be a priority for any company that wants to seriously dabble in gaming.


Let's start with Google Play Games.  I don't know anyone who purposely uses it  Seriously, Google takes no pride in promoting and improving its products after they introduce them.  To this day, most android games do not take advantage of most of the Google Play games features such as online co-op play, or cloud saves. Considering that these features have now been around for about 2 years, this is a shame.

Console exclusives:

Ouya is the worst culprit here, as they absolutely needed exclusives to survive.  For example, a smart business decision would have been to fund other awesome kickstarter projects to gain exclusive games.  Even if they were timed exclusives, it would have helped the console thrive a lot more than it did.   Off the top of my head, Shovel Knight, Mighty No. 9, and Pier Solar HD would have been incredible games to snipe from kickstarter and fund them as Ouya exclusives.  These are games that are well within the specs of the Ouya to run, and in the case of Shovel Knight and Pier Solar, are well received.  Many gamers are looking forward to Mighty No. 9.  Capcom, and Sega are hurting for money, a few dollars thrown their way may have coaxed them to port over some games over to the Ouya that aren't otherwise available on Android consoles.  Likewise, it would have been awesome to have seen a partnership with the Humble Bundle folks that would have provided download codes or a Humble app for the Ouya that allowed you to play purchased games.


As a fan of retro gaming, I love that if a company goes out of business, it won't affect my game collection.  Google, in particular needs to address this.  There needs to be official software that automatically backs up my apps either somewhere like Google drive, and/or my PC where if a game is pulled from the store, I can continue to install it when I eventually reset or upgrade my device.  It is absolutely ridiculous that with the current system, you simply lose your money if a game dev decides to pull their game.  This is a form of rental, not ownership.  I believe that Valve's STEAM has something similar to this, where if they go out of business, you can download and store all of your purchases.   If these companies expect folks to fork over anywhere from $10 to $60 for non physical purchases, then this needs to be addressed ASAP.


Personally, I don't think this is that important. For those looking to have the best graphics support, a microconsole is not an option.  These players will most likely choose a PC or a current gen console.  With that said, the 3DS does not have the best graphics, and still does very well because the games on it play well, and are simply fun while looking good enough for what they are.  In my opinion, microconsoles can learn a lot from Nintendo portables.

These are just a few thoughts on the current state of Android gaming, and why is has not gone mainstream.  Chime in with your thoughts and opinions!

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