In a few years from now, you might see the text “Buy on Android TV” accompanying new game releases, in addition to PlayStation and Xbox. The first game consoles based on Google’s “Android TV” operating systems have launched in the form of Nvidia Shield and Razer Forge.
Game consoles based on Android TV
Think about how many things a modern smartphone can do and how it has changed things over the course of just five to seven years. Similarly with Android TV, Google wants to create a single operating system for TVs that that can do much more; channels, streaming, apps, and well games.
Sony and Microsoft have a lot of great things going for them with the latest consoles but it is probably unwise for them not to feel a little threatened. The phone has become so much more than a phone. The TV box can become so much more than a TV box. It can also be a game console – at least if you ask Google and partners.
The first two game consoles based on Android TV have launched in the US in the form of Nvidia Shield and Razer Forge TV. These are first-generation products but over the arc of time these types of boxes could shake up the market. Besides installing games on the hard drive, Nvidia is trying to build a game streaming service called GRID. Razer allows you to stream PC games to the big screen.
That alone is not necessarily enough to convince game developers, but Nvidia is trying hard to bring some of the biggest games to Android TV.
No yet as powerful as PlayStation & Xbox
However, Nvidia and Razer’s game consoles are not nearly as powerful as Sony and Microsoft’s ditto. Nvidia for example says that Shield is "twice as powerful" as Xbox 360 - the old Xbox. Shield can move 500 GFLOPS (in 32 bit). It is not the only number that counts but for comparison PS3 and Xbox 360 can do approximately 250 GFLOPS, and Xbox One and PS4 somewhere between 1300 and 1800 GFLOPS.
On the other hand these boxes will offer apps. Nvidia Shield is also a 4K player with HEVC and VP9 decoding that will allow you to playback and stream movies and TV series in 4K. Because it is based on Android TV you will be able to install hundreds, and soon thousands, of apps such as Netflix, HBO Now, YouTube etc. Power consumption is very low, too.
Don’t sell your Xbox or PlayStation yet. If we had to choose we would still pick them. But in a few years from now, ‘Android TV’ based game consoles might turn out to be an interesting alternative. Prices start at 100-200 US dollars.