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The Year of the Gaming Consoles

/ Jan 31st, 2013 No Comments

Nvidia's Project SHIELD

2013 – The Year Of The Console

Ouya Console

Ouya Console

2013 may well be the year where gamers get a whole host of new gaming consoles for their gaming pleasure. There seems to be a spate of newly announced consoles, plus of course a couple of consoles that have not been announced yet but are on everybody’s minds.

People’s perception of console gaming seems to have changed in recent months, and thanks to the power of smartphones, they would like to see games that offer crisper graphics, smoother frame-rates and be cheap, or even free with add-on content that needs to be bought if one wishes to do so.

It’s a known fact that the Android operating system, along with powerful hardware is the perfect combination for some amazing games. Take out the phone part, and the OS becomes even more powerful, leaving the full potential power to deliver blisteringly fast and good looking games.

Here is a look at the gaming consoles which could be offered to consumers this year. There’s more choice than ever before, with a console to suit everybody’s needs. Some will be winners in their field, and some will fail.

Ouya

The Ouya console was one of the first of the new breed of consoles to be announced that will be based on the Android operating system (4.1). Its technology is based on the formidable Nvidia Tegra 3 System-On-Chip (SoC), with a quad-core ARM Cortec-A9 processor CPU running at 1.7 Ghz. The Ouya comes with 1GB RAM and has output for up to 1080p with its Nvidia ULP GeForce graphics.

When it comes to connectivity, the Ouya comes equipped with WiFi, Bluetooth LE 4.o and an Ethernet port. Plus, it has one USB 2.0 port and a Micro-USB connector for connection to a PC. It has everything people should need to stay connected and enjoy its exclusive Ouya Store, where all games will have some kind of free-to-play aspect. Plus of course there will be access to the Google Play Store.

One thing in that the makers of the Ouya are pushing is the ability to root the device on purchase, which will allow easy modding of the device. They are also pushing the fact that all systems can be used as development kits, which should lead to some interesting third party games being released. The Ouya looks very sexy, even if it is just a small box-shaped console measuring 75mm cubed. The controller looks quite unique, with a touch pad section. All in all the Ouya is looking very promising and could be a contender in this new generation of consoles.

Nvidia’s Project Shield

Nvidia's Project SHIELD

Nvidia’s Project SHIELD

A new entry into the console releases for 2013 is the recently announced Nvidia Project Shield. The system will be based on Android 4.2.1 and feature the very latest Tegra 4 SoC, which potentially means it will be a lot more powerful than the Ouya once it is released. Project Shield specifications are pretty sparse at the moment, although we know it looks like a gaming handset with the option to add a 5 inch 720p multi-touch screen onto it.

Just like the Ouya, Project Shield will have a dedicated store in the the Nvidia TegraZone, plus Google Play and Steam. The console allows for the streaming of games that are on a compatible desktop PC or Laptop, and will allow certain Windows games to be played via the Shield in a very similar way to the way Sony’s Remote Play works.

Unlike a dedicated console, Project Shield is not a separate console and controller, but its technical innards are inside the controller and there is no other part to it. That may appeal to some people, or it may offend some people by its simplicity. Either way, it’s shaping up to be something quite interesting.

Valve Steam Box

Valve have announced they will be releasing a console in 2013, and it won’t be based on an Android OS. Instead is rumoured to be using a version of Linux (technically Android is Linux, but that’s another story). Not too much is known about the Steam Box, but Valve have said they are working on a room friendly PC that will run Stream.

For those who didn’t know, Steam is in beta at the moment on Linux, so Valve will be pushing forward to get that version of Steam out of beta. Another option would be for the Steam Box to run a version of Windows, however it is unlikely as that would push up the cost of the box. Valve has stated that the Steam Box will be released in a very controlled environment, meaning it’s a console rather than a PC.

Xbox 720 & PS4 (or Playstation Orbis)

Of course 2013 would not be complete without the hotly rumoured release of the next Xbox and the next Playstation. There are a ton of rumours regarding the specifications of both these machines, however I will not speculate (that can be seen here) on which machine is going to have which technical innards.

One thing is certain, the Xbox 720 and PS4 are coming. They will be more powerful than the current consoles that are available, and they will be capable of throwing more things around the screen than current consoles can. Games may or may not run at higher resolutions, and have higher frame-rates, but there’s no doubt that they will have higher resolution textures, and more memory to play with.

Blu-Ray will once again be the preferred method of delivering games, and even Microsoft will no doubt use Blu-Ray this time. Of course the online content will be pushed on gamers more than ever, and the size of the hard drives will no doubt reflect this.

Choices… Choices!

With so many choices of games consoles, 2013 is going to be a brilliant year for consoles. It’s still early days to say whether or not Valve and the Android consoles will make a dent in the gaming market. Although they all sound very interesting, some people may find them a little too geeky for the average user. On the other hand, Microsoft and Sony’s new consoles are going to be big. The public’s thirst for these consoles is huge, and there’s no doubt the consoles will offer a lot more than current consoles, and possibly a lot more than the other consoles mentioned in this article.

Either way, 2013 is the year of choices, and it’ll be great to revisit  these choices in a year’s time and see if there is a clear winner in the race for world domination.

Mark Adams
Mark Adams been gaming since 1977 and owned almost every console since the original Pong machine. Gaming has always been part of his life and he enjoys a variety of games and his mind is always open to new experiences in the gaming world. Over the years he has written gaming articles for blogs and local newspapers, and he always tries and add something a little bit different from your usual review. He works in IT for a small local company in Wales, and when he's not working, he's gaming!
Mark Adams
Mark Adams
Mark Adams

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