Well, that whole Android microconsole craze flared out quickly, didn't it?
Just a week after Ouya announced plans to bring its gaming platform to other devices, Bluestacks has revealed a major shift in business models for its GamePop console. Instead of just selling consoles directly to consumers, GamePop wants to offer the product to cable companies, who can then bundle gaming into their existing TV and Internet services, according to TechCrunch.
For this purpose, GamePop has come up with a new console design. The console itself is a small HDMI dongle that plugs directly into the television, not unlike Chromecast or Roku's Streaming Stick. The controller is wand-shaped like a standard TV remote, but the front panel looks sort of like a Super Nintendo controller, with a directional pad and four face buttons.
GamePop will still deliver pre-orders to customers who placed them, and GamePop's Website still appears to be taking pre-orders as of Tuesday, but it's not clear whether the standalone console will remain available directly to consumers after the pre-order period. GamePop's plan is still to charge $7 per month for access to hundreds of games, instead of charging per game.
GamePop was one of several attempts to strike it rich with Android-based gaming machines. Following the early Kickstarter success of Ouya, competitors such as GameStick and Mad Catz's M.O.J.O. entered the fray, promising a wealth of cheap, indie games to play on your television.
But so far, there isn't much evidence that these consoles are gaining any traction. None have released sales figures, and last week Ouya said it would bring its games to other devices, starting with Mad Catz's M.O.J.O. While Ouya will continue to make hardware, CEO Julie Urhman referred to the standalone console as a "reference design" in an interview with Slashdot. In that sense, Ouya's own console will take a backseat to other devices, such as televisions and streaming set-top boxes, that might decide to carry Ouya's catalog.
While it seems like a failure for the small, open, indie console, perhaps this is the best way forward. Other gaming services such as Steam and Xbox Live proved long ago that the best way to promote smaller-scale games was to tie them to something more popular, such as a catalog of larger-scale games or a broader entertainment platform. It's tough to justify turning on an Ouya or a GamePop--let alone spend money on it--but as part of something larger, the small-scale game console dream could live on.