Android challenges Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft in gaming

Posted by Charbax – June 10, 2011
Android Game Changer
Android Game Changer

The new Dual-core and Quad-core ARM Processors that are coming out in the newest ARM Powered Smartphones, Tablets and Set-top-boxes in the coming months can display more than 200 million triangles per second! The 5-year old PS3 does 250 million triangles a second. XboX 360 does 500 million triangles a second. So in terms of performance, the graphics improvements on ARM Powered devices are absolutely amazing. Graphics performance on ARM processors seems to be more than doubling each year. Consider that the ARM Powered device probably uses 100x less power than the PS3 or XboX 360! One theory why Sony disables HDMI output on PSVita may be because the $249 Quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 Powered PSVita may actually be more powerful for gaming than the 5-year-old $299 Cell Processor based PS3!

Here are some of the angles that may make of Android the near futures biggest home and portable console platform:

1. Openness

- Any small game developer can easily release their games to a global audience without asking anyone. Gamers can also install whichever game they want (legally or ilegally) just by downloading the .apk downloaded from any website.

2. Choice

- All manufacturers can make the Android gaming devices, not just Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft.

3. Lower prices

- More manufacturers competing means lower prices and better features. Also, Google can start a global gaming all-access pass, something like $10/month for hard core gamers to gain access to all the games as much as they want. Who would want to pay $50/game through retailers anymore?

4. Remove intermediaries

- Games in the age of the internet are meant to be downloaded from the Internet. No more need to distribute physical disks at retail stores. Even for big games that take up several gigabytes, the games can be downloaded through p2p with no central distribution cost.

5. Emulation of all previous consoles

- New Dual-core and Quad-core Android devices can probably emulate all the previous Nintendo, Sony consoles, I expect even N64, Dreamcast and PS2 games to get emulated smoothly. This means tens of thousands of games are thus (legally or ilegally) available to all Android gamers. Even the oldest Nintendo NES console games released 25 years ago are as cool as Angry Birds, and SNES games released nearly 20 years ago have about the same quality level of graphics as Angry Birds. This means through (legal or illegal) emulation, from day 1, Android devices can have about 1000 blockbuster games as good as Angry Birds.

Nintendo is awesome.

Yet I feel they try too hard to hold onto old business models that consist of centrally distributing the games on disks through retailers. And they may believe too strongly that only themselves must control the gaming hardware, that they would not legally allow other hardware makers to play their games.

Nintendo needs to forget about retailers and they need to embrace everyone elses hardware. Nintendo needs to distribute all their games as downloads, provide legal access to all their games on Android for that sub-$10/month global gaming subscription plan. This would instantly provide Nintendo with Billions of dollars of pure new profit. They can still release new consoles, they can even release reference designs and certification branding "Certified by Nintendo" for how they think Android devices should be designed to provide the best gaming user interfaces and performance.

The Nintendo Wii U announced this week at E3, seems to be an upgraded HD capable Wii with a new controller that basically seems to be an ARM Powered 6.2" capacitive tablet, with perhaps not much local processing going on with most of the 3D game processing happening on the IBM Power PC powered Wii U console, thus the new Wii Controller may act most as some kind of remote input and display device designed to have minimal latency.

Wii U is going to be awesome and all. And I want a Quad-Core PSVita for $249 this Christmas, I just think both are kind of sad in their closed philosophy. Those are basically awesome ARM Powered hardwares which just aren't designed to take full advantage of their potential, they have features blocked or removed in them because Nintendo and Sony believe only in their previous-century business models, sad.

But who knows, Nintendo and Sony still have time to adjust their plans. They still both may take full advantage of Android opportunity and feel they need to open up towards it instead of ignoring it.