Video game preview: Mobile developers embrace Android TV and big screen gaming

GamerHub.tvJuly 17, 2014 

Android TV is set to change the game, literally, when it launches this fall. The new micro-console from Google will allow game developers to bring new console-style gameplay experiences to the big screen, thanks to the enhanced processing power of Nvidia Tegra K1.

"Android TV was by far the most exciting part of Google I/O," said Tom Mleko, co-founder of mobile game publisher HyperBees. "It is quite clear that games will be a major focus point for Google and I count on Google to enable us, as developers, to create fantastic games and build business on Android TV. So far we have seen one technical demo, but the potential opportunities are mind-blowing, especially if manufacturers keep prices at reasonable levels.

When Nvidia first mentioned Android TV to us, my first thought was 'Wow, now we can actually play "Voxel Rush" on a massive screen with good audio, two controllers, local player-vs-player and a crate of beer!' "

Todd Daniel, founder of Shiny Box Games, said Android TV is the natural progression of the gaming ecosystem.

"Content is what has always driven video games," said Daniel, who recently developed "Dungeon Quest." "Even in the early days of consoles having a Super NES versus a Genesis was a stake in the ground, but that stake was always planted around the games you played on that console. Now companies of any size can create content that is affordable to develop, and when released looks like it belongs on any size screen."

"TV is obviously a different form factor than mobile, and some people who play games on TV don't play on mobile devices," said Pablo Rojo, founder of Thinice Games. "But there are also people playing on TV that play on mobile devices. Android TV facilitates reaching all these different players wherever they like to play, easily adapting the experience according to their preferred device."

With PC gaming also coming to the big screen this fall with the launch of Steam Machines, the very dynamic of the living room being owned by consoles will forever change. Micro-consoles, connected mobile devices and even high-powered PCs will all be competing for gamers' attention on the very same screen.

"To date, Android devices supporting TV output have been a mixed bag," said Recoil Games developer Jan Achrenius. "Android TV unifies the interface and has powerful minimum hardware requirements. Android TV market will be less fragmented when compared to phones and tablets. Of course, supporting both Android TV and phones/tablets will require some kind of compromise between touchscreen and gamepad controls."

Nvidia is working directly with developers like Recoil Games to make the workflow more seamless between developing games across mobile and micro-console devices. These games will also help to close the gap between traditional console games and mobile offerings.

Achrenius said that with Tegra K1 technology, "Rochard" defaults to 1920x1200p resolution at very high frame rates. He believes there will be more console-quality games on K1 that will run smoothly on Full HD displays or even at higher resolutions. Some of these games may support touchscreen gameplay, but it's no longer a necessity. Migrating the current mobile games to the big screen is quite simple, but some games just are not designed for the gamepad or big screen. It's a different platform.

"We'll start seeing more and more cross-device experiences, where you could start playing a game in your smartphone and continue it on your TV when you get home," said Rojo. "With such a fast evolving technology, performance will soon catch up with the latest game consoles so platform holders will probably mutate into content providers more than hardware providers."

In an age when independent developers are getting more opportunities to reach a massive audience, Android TV offers another big screen venue for digital distribution - alongside Xbox Live Marketplace and PlayStation Store. And for gamers, this means more choice of low-priced, or even free-to-play, games for multiple screens.

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