This past week, Amazon unveiled the new Fire TV. Priced at $100, the Android-powered device is set to compete directly with the similarly-priced Apple TV and Roku devices. Amazon has tried to put everything into the new device in its attempt to control the living room and make the Fire TV the one-stop-shop for all of your media needs.
Rumors first began to spread about the device last year. However, the initial “leak” implied that Amazon was working on its own gaming console, still Android-based, which could possibly compete with Sony and Microsoft’s systems. That rumor turned out to be half true. Fire TV, at this point, is likely only to compete for your dollar with the high-powered gaming consoles if you’re comfortable settling for $2 Android games brought over from your phone and optimized for a controller.
Amazon announced that the price of an average game on Fire TV will be $1.85, and its controller will be $39.99. And while most of the games currently available on the Fire TV are originally mobile games, Amazon will also be developing games exclusively for the device through Amazon Games Studio, a branch of the company created in 2012. While many notable names in the developer community have signed on to the company, alongside the acquisition of Double Helix Games in February, at this point, none of the games the studio has shown off for the device have been all that impressive.
Due to the rumor that Amazon’s device was to be a dedicated gaming console, the initial response from the gaming community seemed to be a strain of confusion. In general, the device was looked down upon: Why even include the option of buying a controller for phone games? It quickly became obvious for the gaming community that this is not a system made for games. They are correct; this is a set-top box for streaming services that also has the option of playing games – half of which are only available if you spend an extra $40 on the Xbox 360-inspired controller. Amazon touted the power of the device, but only in comparison to the Apple TV and Roku. It’s unlikely, then, that the Fire TV will be used much more than what those two devices.
But with the inclusion of games onto the device, Fire TV shows Amazon may view video games the same way most gamers likely view them: an essential medium available for use in the living room. And it’s not as if they aren’t trying something new with games. Amazon announced that developers will be able to design their games to be streamed through Amazon’s AppStream, rather than have them downloaded before being playable. Similar to Sony’s PlayStation Now, it’s an interesting caveat for the small system to offer.
And when can you get your hands on this fun little device? Right now. Alongside the announcement of Fire TV came the even more interesting announcement that the set-top box would be available immediately. You can buy it right now for $99 on Amazon.