A Game Console the Size of a Thumb Drive?

Riding on the coattails of Ouya’s success story, a new competitor for Android-powered television gaming has popped up on Kickstarter. It’s called GameStick, and it’s an entire console crammed into a USB thumb drive.

Imagine a standard game controller with a tiny, USB-style stick (but without the USB) that pops out of a little slot on the bottom. Plug that stick into your TV’s HDMI slot, and you’ve got yourself a completely wireless game console (the controller connects to the stick via Bluetooth). It’s ultra-portable, super simple, and built on Android, so the potential games it can run number in the thousands.

It’s called GameStick, and despite its teeny-weeny size, it outputs video at full 1080p and packs 8GB of Flash storage. GameStick was created by PlayJam, makers of The PlayJam Network, a casual games provider for smart TVs. So these guys already have access to plenty of games developers, and are leveraging that contact list of 250-some devs to bring loads of new games to GameStick.

Aside from the whole “stick” angle, this sounds an awful lot like Ouya, so comparisons are inevitable. But PlayJam claims that GameStick has been in development for over a year now, predating Ouya’s unveiling and Kickstarter project. That said, they’ve set a price point that seems like an intentional attempt to undercut Ouya’s. GameStick will sell for just $79, while Ouya is selling for $99. But Ouya’s system boasts more horsepower and a much better-looking, more ergonomic controller that includes all the standard buttons and whatnot along with a touch pad. GameStick’s controller is a flat, blocky thing that brings to mind the old NES controller.

At first brush, it may look like GameStick is aiming at the casual, plug-and-play arcade crowd while Ouya is targeting hardcore gamers. But GameStick already has several “serious” Android games committed to its platform, including Shadowgun, Dead Trigger, SmashCops, Cannabalt, and more. It’s impressive that they’re able to cram so much into such a tiny package, but I’m a bit turned off by the clunky-looking controller. And while we’re several months past Ouya’s Kickstarter project, GameStick’s timing still seems a little… odd. Their on-screen UI looks very similar to Ouya’s, and since both platforms have Android games, they’ll both be selling titles for pretty much the same low, single-digit prices.

Over on Kickstarter, GameStick set out looking for $100,000, and surpassed it in the first few days. There are still 28 days to go for the fundraising campaign, where you can pre-order your own GameStick for $69 — $10 off the retail price.

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Robin Parrish

Unathletic, uncoordinated tall man with endless creativity stampeding through his overactive brain. Comes with beard, wife, and two miniature humans. Novelist. General blogger and main Gaming Geek for ForeverGeek. Lead Blogger, Apple Gazette.

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