Come March or April, when the US$99 Ouya games console should see release, Android will have stepped out of the mobile sphere and into a dainty little cube residing in the broad proximity of the television. But even before Ouya has had a chance to assert itself in the market, Charles Huang, co-creator of the Guitar Hero series of games, has muddied the water with a different approach to putting Android games on the TV – one that assumes millions of us already have the console itself in our pockets: an Android smartphone. It's called Green Throttle, and it's about as simple as an app and an analog controller.
Both Ouya and Green Throttle are intended with disposable, mobile-style game experiences in mind. That the games are played on a larger screen is touted as an advantage, but it's a social more than a technological one. It's a means of restoring gaming as a shared experience, rather than flaunting the consoles' graphical prowess (… gaming powerhouses these ain't).
If Green Throttle's creators argue that it will offer gaming experiences superior to mobile devices, this has much more to do with the nuanced input that the twin-stick analog controller will allow. Much like the Ouya's, in fact, Green Throttle's Atlas controller will look familiar to console gamers, bearing a strong resemblance as it does to the Xbox 360's (which, for now at least, seems to have been settled on as an ideal form for twin-stick controls).
"The ability to add true analog controllers allows the precision that touch screen controls just can’t deliver for the sophisticated control of our characters," said Taehoon Kim, CEO of game developer nWay. "Adding controllers to the mobile version of ChronoBlade allows users to experience the game the way it was meant to be played; bringing a true console-like proposition."
It's probably an understatement to say that there's an element of PR bluster to that quote, but anyone who's struggled to play a traditional console-style game on a touchscreen mobile device using an on-screen approximation of analog thumbsticks and buttons will recognize the kernel of truth to this sentiment.
There are some hardware limitations to consider, though. Your Android phone will need to be connectable to your TV's HDMI input, though the Green Throttle website currently lists the current compatible devices as the Google Galaxy Nexus, HTC One X, Samsung GALAXY S II and the Galaxy Note. The Atlas controller requires Android 3.2 or later, and users will need to download Green Throttle's Arena App that will showcase compatible games.
Green Throttle seems to offer some distinct advantages over Ouya. Given that millions of people already own the device will power the system is clearly an advantage. Even better, though, is that this may be the first home games system to transcend hardware obsolescence. People upgrade their smartphones much more frequently than they do their games consoles. With Green Throttle, your next new phone is your new console. Current generation smartphones may not quite offer top-drawer graphics, but who's to say that will always be the case?
Huang co-founded the company behind the platform, Green Throttle Games, with mobile hardware magi Matt Crowley (formerly of Palm and Nokia) and Karl Townsend (Palm). On Tuesday the company announced the opening of its development portal with access to hardware and software development kits.
Green Throttle Games is hoping to ship kits to developers around December 12. Kits vary in price according to how many Atlas controllers you'd like: US$44.95 for one, up to $349.95 for 10. They're working on iOS support too.
Whether Green Throttle and Ouya will duke it out directly remains to be seen. But at least as interesting will be seeing how mobile devices (and indeed cloud services) disrupt – or perhaps eventually destroy – the traditional console market.
Source: Green Throttle Games
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