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NVIDIA, a shot in the arm for Microconsoles?

by Adam Thorwart | 3月 05, 2015

During its live “Made to Game” campaign at the GDC conference, NVIDIA announced the next evolution in the Android based microconsole market with its Shield console. It is actually a cross-over device between PC cloud gaming and mobile gaming, but it also comes with 4k video streaming capabilities through top streaming apps like Hulu and YouTube, just to name a few. However it is a gaming first platform and the Shield microconsole currently highlights a catalog of 80 games (30 from the Grid and 50 Androidbased).

The Launch isn’t until May 2015 so there is a lot more to be learned about the product and its offerings, but two key factors stick out to me as to why the Shield might not be a good buy for consumers.

  • For starters, the price point is $199. The price in a stand-alone environment isn’t the issue, but when we introduce prices to similar microconsoles the picture becomes a little bleaker for NVIDIA. Take another top microconsole, Amazon Fire TV, as an example. The Fire TV costs $99 without a dedicated gaming controller or $140 with game controller – which the Shield does include into its $199 package. However, if we are comparing it to other PC cloud streaming devices then it is actually a bargain considering a competitor device like the Alienware Alpha i3 4GB console is priced at $499.
  • Secondly, the game catalog lacks in size and in differentiating itself from other microconsoles. The initial 80 game catalog is smaller in comparison to what both OUYA and Fire TV had at launch and neither of those devices had impressive sales like expected, especially OUYA which had all the hype leading up to its launch. The other concern with the game catalog is the fact that 18% of the available Android games are also available for Fire TV so there isn’t a ton of differentiation between titles available for each microconsole. Some of the top cross-over titles include Gameloft’s Asphalt 8: Airborne and Rockstar Game’s Grand Theft Auto: China Wars. App availability for OUYA and Amazon Fire TV were covered extensively in our Amazon Fire TV Apps insight published in January 2015.

What to expect from this announcement?

Microconsoles will likely experience a boost in consumer and industry hype surrounding microconsoles after NVIDIA’s announcement, but we caution against buying into the hype of microconsoles displacing console or mobile gaming. The main reason for the dour outlook is largely due to the lack of available content and previous success of microconsoles. Additionally, we also think the hype created by NVIDIA will result in the re-surfacing of acquisition rumors surrounding other microconsole manufacturers, similar to what happened post-Fire TV launch. After the Fire TV launch OUYA was linked to acquisition rumors where it would be acquired by Google in the U.S. or possibly Tencent in China. Ultimately none of the rumors came to fruition.

Bottom line: With such a small catalog, the NVIDIA Shield microconsole will likely be a hard sell to consumers especially considering how the price point compares to other top microconsoles like Amazon’s Fire TV.

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