Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Games Hardware

Amazon's Fire TV: Is It Worth Game Developers' Time? 88

Posted by timothy
from the how-to-achieve-play-anywhere? dept.
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "Amazon is serious about conquering the living room: the online retailer has launched Fire TV, a set-top box that not only allows viewers to stream content, but also play games. That streaming-and-gaming capability makes Amazon a threat to Apple, which rumors suggest is hard at work on an Apple TV capable of doing the same things. In addition, Fire TV puts the screws to other streaming hardware, including Roku and Google's Chromecast, as well as smaller game consoles such as Ouya (a $99, Android-based device). Much of Amazon's competitive muscle comes from its willingness to sell hardware for cheap (the Fire TV retails for $99) on the expectation that owners will use it to stream and download digital content from Amazon, including television shows and apps. Those developers who've developed Android games have an advantage when it comes to migrating software to Amazon's new platform. "Porting You Don't Know Jack was really like developing for Android, with the exception of the store and the new controller library," Jackbox Games Designer/Director Steve Heinrich told Gamasutra after the Fire TV announcement. "The store itself is the same as the Kindle version, which we've used many times now, and the way the controller works is very close to what we did for Ouya." While Fire TV could represent yet another opportunity for game developers looking to make a buck, it also raises a pressing question: with so many platforms out there (iOS, PC, etc.), how's an indie developer or smaller firm supposed to allocate time and resources to best advantage?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Amazon's Fire TV: Is It Worth Game Developers' Time?

Comments Filter:
  • ...so the trick becomes -- do you want to write an app where the primary input isn't touch.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's all the power of Android with all the UI options of a television!

      ...

      Pass.

      • Android is sufficiently powerful for certain tasks, and TV's typically have a good (easy and intuitive) UI.

        We've been hearing for a while about how casual games are the new norm, at the expense of the serious gamer/console market. We're also seeing "internet TV" functionality on high-end consoles. So this seems to fit that niche perfectly. It's less expensive and power hungry (as if anyone really cared about that - do they?).

        I could see this working nicely for someone who wants to replace cable, and like

  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @01:39PM (#46651149)

    If it's ad based, then getting in front of more eyeballs via Android and derivatives is the way to go.

    If it's depending upon purchases or in-app purchases then iOS is the platform to concentrate on first.

  • by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @01:43PM (#46651193)

    Why would someone buy a FireTV in other countries? Even in Canada, we don't get things like Hulu, Amazon Streaming, etc. All we have is the Canadian version of Netflix which has, at best, 20% of the library available to the USA.

    • I have not found this answer yet (have not tried too hard, though): can it mount nfs and smb shares and play back from NAS; or is this 'streaming (from wan) only'?

      if its streaming only, then I have 0 interest in this. streaming is nice but the must-have is to be able to properly mount and play smb and nfs content and also not care about how the content was encoded (some hardware playback devices only play certain settings-enabled content; if the encoder was using 'odd' parameters, quite a lot of hardware p

      • by Karlt1 (231423)

        I have not found this answer yet (have not tried too hard, though): can it mount nfs and smb shares and play back from NAS; or is this 'streaming (from wan) only'?

        if its streaming only, then I have 0 interest in this. streaming is nice but the must-have is to be able to properly mount and play smb and nfs content and also not care about how the content was encoded (some hardware playback devices only play certain settings-enabled content; if the encoder was using 'odd' parameters, quite a lot of hardware pl

        • transcode? no thanks. that's not any way forward.

          players should play any format and play it well. if a movie is encoded in a format, it took time and effort and to just re-encode again on top of that is so wrong I can't begin to explain..

          this is what keeps me using software players like vlc. whatever encode was used, it does not matter, vlc (and others like it) can play it. hardware based players (that rely mostly on bluray based video decoders and hdmi encoders) often work well when the format is to t

          • transcode? no thanks. that's not any way forward.

            players should play any format and play it well.

            Agreed. Plex has its place, but why complicate things unnecessarily? I was looking to see if this had file and network storage support, looks like the base version does not.

            I wonder, if the Fire is truly android based, if a version of XBMC or other player software could eventually come to fruition.

            • Given the benefits of Plex - automatic download of info, sorting, presentation, etc, etc - and the fact that it runs beautifully on a power sipping pogoplug - running Debian, or Archlinux - there is no reason not to run Plex. There are many other benefits in having a very low power box running Linux.
              • If you have clients that don't need DLNA or transcoding, IMO, there is no reason to have PLEX. Its not for everyone. Transcoding = quality loss. Also, I would never purchase a pogoplug, as it would add zero value to my system. There may be benefits to some, but everyone's needs are different.
          • by bberens (965711)
            I run a Plex server and connect to it remotely via my phone. My phone can definitely play 1080p video, but my cell connection generally isn't going to stream fast enough. Having plex transcode on the fly means that the video is playable vs not.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Plex also acts as a DLNA server. Most, if not all Plex clients can request a direct stream. No transcoding required. It's an option if you want it, not a requirement.

      • by vux984 (928602)

        a nice fanless hardware player would be welcome but only if it can fully replace my software based player.

        At this point, I'm not really interested in a device for there. As it stands I've got a win8 box; the netflix metro app is about the only thing genuinely good about metro :)

        I've got XBMC now for video playback. (VLC is great, but fails at usability at 10 feet)

        And I've got a pair of xbox 360 wireless controllers paired to it, along with Steam big picture mode.

        Its only slightly less user friendly to use t

      • The interesting thing for me is: Will it play movies off of a USB hard drive? Right now, I rip DVDs that I own to MP4 and put them on a USB hard drive. I hook that up to my Roku box and it plays those movies. (I'd keep them in MKV format, but Roku has issues with MKV. I've had much more luck with MP4. It's an extra conversion step, but it works.)

        Amazon's box has a USB port but (according to the reviews at least) it doesn't use it. Could USB support be coming in a firmware update? If so, this might be

      • by jomcty (806483)
        Sounds like you want a WD TV Live [wdc.com]. It can mount NFS & SMB, and act as an SMB server as well, sharing any attached HD. It has played every downloaded video file I've thrown at it.
    • Free Trade! Unless the media content holders disagree or have some bizarre unwarranted suspicion that you come from a country of copyright infringers, as they obviously believe all Canadians (and all the rest of you) to be.

    • Unless you subscribe to unblock-us or unotelly or one of the other DNS VPN providers, then you can watch all of that in Canada as well.

    • by ArsonSmith (13997)

      Yea, but you can get that 20% of the content like 10 times faster than the USA.

    • Get a vpn for $40 (American) a year. Problem solved.
    • by kamapuaa (555446)

      I don't see the issue. Amazon.ca isn't selling the device. Canada's population is about 1/10th of the USA, it's less affluent, and streaming services are less common, so it's not like American devices need the Canadian market to succeed. There are a million devices that are initially released in only one country, this will make it one million and one.

      I'm sure Amazon would love to make more money, if this does well and if Canadian streaming services get larger they will probably sell this in Canada.

  • by bluescrn (2120492) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @01:43PM (#46651199)
    If it shipped with their game controller, it might be worth considering. But the controller is an optional extra...
  • Answer... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @01:44PM (#46651207) Homepage

    Short answer: no.

    Long answer: Nooooooooooooooooooooo.

    Honestly, if they are not writing for Ouya, they will not write for this.

    • by LoRdTAW (99712)

      Depends on where the developer thinks the money is. Ask anyone on the street if they have heard of Ouya. My bet is almost no one will know who or what Ouya is. Then ask them if they have heard of Amazon. I'm guessing a very large percentage, probably over 90%.

      Amazon has tons of money they can devote towards marketing for such a device. Far more than Ouya could dream of. So one could surmise that FireTV will have far more exposure and therefore has the potential to become a lucrative platform. It's certainly

  • by squiggleslash (241428) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @01:44PM (#46651213) Homepage Journal

    ...I'd assume the only time that needs to be spent on development of an app that already works on Android is "Use this input device instead of a touchscreen." For some games, that'll be a problem, but for the type of FPS type thing you'd expect to play on a TV, I'd have thought it'd be simple.

    So I guess the question is why are you even bothering to ask us? You'd going to have to spend a whole extra day programming. Big whoop. Just do it.

    • by Anrego (830717) *

      Agree.

      The answer here seems very polarized. It's either going to be trivial or a nightmare depending on the game.

      If the former and you think there's a market, do it, if the later, probably not worth it.

    • Unlike a physical controller, you have to look down at a touch input.

      Even corners or center aren't always clear if you're not looking at it. Try unlocking your phone 10 times in a row without ever opening your eyes.

  • Amazon mysteries (Score:4, Interesting)

    by colfer (619105) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @01:49PM (#46651259)

    Amazon's primary interest in this device *seems* to be to drive sales on Amazon Instant, not to serve as a general purpose streamer like Roku (though it does that too). There's some confusion in the business press about what Amazon is up to, but this is a likely guess. It doesn't want to be reliant on Roku, ChromeCast, Sony, etc., and would like to have a sticky ecosystem like Apple.

    The other theory is that Amazon believes users will prefer it as a premium branded product, again like Apple. The product does not need to compete with Roku on price, in that case, but does need to compete on features.

    • by Dan667 (564390)
      My 2 cents is that walled gardens even when successful have a shelf life. If you were trying to milk the most money out of your product and have the longest lifespan I would open it up and take advantage of all the users that are willing to develop or add content for free like Roku has done.
    • by alen (225700)

      not surprised
      best buy owns cinemanow
      vudu is owned by wal mart

      both are positioned to profit from a move to digital media and a drop in DVD/blu ray sales. amazon instant is like a bastard stepchild in streaming video

      • Good insight. Amazon instant is a stepchild compared to others. While the Prime price is right there with Netflix, I still think at this time most consumers equate Prime with shopping, not watching. But maybe Amazon is out to change that. They had a successful promotion of prime in late 2013... if they repeat that success with Fire, they might be a market leader in a hurry.
    • The other theory is that Amazon believes users will prefer it as a premium branded product, again like Apple. The product does not need to compete with Roku on price, in that case, but does need to compete on features.

      My guess is it's this and right now Amazon seems to be betting that people want what is basically a Roku with a whole lot less video options and a whole lot more game options. Seems like a strange bet to me and not what I would think as the people I know who have Roku (including me) aren't interested in the game part of it, which isn't much.

    • The problem here is that the product has no specific point to it - it exists *solely to produce vendor lock in*. Since it's little more than a re-badged Android TV stick [amazon.com] there's really nothing special at all about it. This, in a market space that's saturated with me-too also-rans.

      It's not that Amazon's offering is horrible, it's that it's not notable in a field littered with the corpses of other not-notable failed products.

  • Not a threat to Apple(tm). Apple fans are the least likely to leave their chosen brand. We android users are a fickle lot though, and I'll jump ship in a millisecond to Ubuntu if Shuttleworth can get his shit together on the mobile platform. Until the next thing comes along that tweaks my interest.

    • by Bigbutt (65939)

      As someone up thread said, if your model depends on ad revenue (in app ads), then Android. If it's app purchase revenue, then Apple.

      Which also makes your statement true. If you're not buying apps for the Android, you have nothing tying you to the platform. If something new comes along, you'll jump to the new sparkly because you have no money invested. With Apple, you're buying apps. So you're throwing away the money you've paid.

      I have quite a few apps on my iPhone that I would have more of a problem bailin

    • by rasmusbr (2186518)

      Not a threat to Apple(tm). Apple fans are the least likely to leave their chosen brand. We android users are a fickle lot though, and I'll jump ship in a millisecond to Ubuntu if Shuttleworth can get his shit together on the mobile platform. Until the next thing comes along that tweaks my interest.

      This is off-topic, but I enjoy the desktop version of Ubuntu enough that I don't want to do anything that might encourage Mr. Shuttleworth to waste more resources on clutching the fifth or sixth spot in the mobile OS market after Android, iOS, Windows, Blackberry and whatever the Chinese megacorporations decide on.

      I like that when you donate to Canonical you can tell them how you want the donation to be spent. All on the desktop please.

  • INB4 someone posts something about Betteridge's Law of Headlines, along with a link to the Wikipedia article informing all of us for the very, very, very first time that such a thing exists.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Nobody wants this device to begin with, and nobody makes any money developing for Android, so this is a complete dead-in-the-water device that will only be adopted by the same boneheads who adopted the Ouya. So SquareEnix's Final Fantasy division and nobody else. (SquareEnix is the only company to put their games on pretty much every new platform, and is also the same company who has no commitment to any platform. See how FF7 and FF8, but no later games came to the PC except for the MMORPG's. One of the fe

  • They develop their game to the platform that already has the most users, thus maximizing their potential profit.

    This is the kind of stupid question that's asked by geeks who diss MBAs.
    • No, it's not an easy answer, you target the platform that will have the best sales when the product is released (say, 12 months in the future). Further complicated by the fragmentation of the Android platform. So now you've got the Play store, Ouya, Fire TV, and a dozen other Android platforms that you may need to customize for, each with varying hardware specs, so it's hard to predict if your game will perform as expected. Then you compare that to the Steam ecosystem, Windows, Apple, Wii U, XBone, and P

  • Given that amazon cheaped out on the hardware, I would say 'No'.

    Why in the world they chose the S4 Pro over the Snapdragon 800 (with Adreno 330) boggles the mind.

    It's like when nVidia released the tegra 3 and the darn thing was outdated before it even hit the shelves.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Amazon Fire TV requires a Prime membership to get the maximum value from the device. Without the Prime membership (and extra $100 a year), the device is drastically hamstrung compared to an Apple TV or a Roku.

    If you have an Amazon Prime membership already, this device is fantastic.

    If you don't have an Amazon Prime membership, this device will add a notable expense to your yearly entertainment budget.

    If you live in pretty much any country other than the US, you're buying a device that is severely hamstru

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I have a Prime membership and even I'm not interested. I can already stream my Prime videos just fine on my Roku3, so why would I need this thing?

      • I have a Prime membership and even I'm not interested. I can already stream my Prime videos just fine on my Roku3, so why would I need this thing?

        Because you don't already have one like the other 90+% of Americans?

      • by terryo (689471)
        I just bought a FireTV box even though I have a Roku. If it works out, then I won't replace the Roku when it dies. I had a Chromecast but it didn't get used and took up a connection on the tv, so I gave it away.
        I don't like buying apps on Amazon for my Android phone and tablet but I plan on buying some solitaire, poker and puzzle type games for a disabled family member, things that can be played with the remote. It will be convenient to check the weather or headlines or YouTube (which is pretty limite
    • by Ogive17 (691899)
      That is a silly assessment. To get the most out of any of the devices, a consumer must have subscriptions to external services.

      It's not like purchasing an AppleTV or Roku gives you free subscriptions to Netflix.
    • by radish (98371)

      Seriously, how much value does this device have without access to video streaming via Amazon Prime?

      Pretty much the same values as a Roku - you can use it to stream Netflix etc. I really don't understand your point - yes this device is more integrated into the Amazon ecosystem, but it does do the same basic things that most other similar devices do.

  • If this supported DLNA as a client (since I have a media server), I'd be all over this. If I owned one, I'd develop for it. Kindle owners BUY APPS. They are about on par with iOS users.

  • Who do I trust to stuff like this right? In order ...

    1. Steam
    2. Apple
    *distant dip in confidence from here on *
    3. Microsoft (oddly)
    4. Google (doesn't have user's interests in mind)
    *And now it gets real shaky*
    5. Amazon (doesn't seem to get things "right", hard to explain)
    6. Sony (trust is major factor)
    7. Nintendo (doesn't seem to understand market at all)
    • by oneiros27 (46144)

      I noticed how EA / Origin didn't even make it onto the list.

      (which I 100% agree with)

  • by gladish (982899) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @03:34PM (#46652265)
    Is it or me does it seem more and more like SunOS, IRIX, HP-UX, VMS, Digital UNIX, and so on all over again? I sometimes wonder if this is the precursor to the second coming of windows. Microsoft is the only company that seems to be trying to unify all their "stuff" across various devices/platforms.
  • by jjhall (555562) <slashdot@noSpAM.mail4geeks.com> on Thursday April 03, 2014 @04:33PM (#46653161) Homepage

    I knew the Fire TV name sounded familiar, and now I remember why. FyreTV is a set-top box for streaming pr0n delivery that advertised years ago in the back of Maxim magazine. I'd forgotten about them until Amazon reminded me, and am actually surprised to see they are still around. I wonder if Amazon will be forced to change the name of their box due to trademark concerns?

  • It only comes with 8 gigs of storage and no expansion slot. Considering that a lot of games weigh in at more than a gigabyte nowadays it's pretty obvious that no "hardcore" gamer would buy this instead of a console even if the other hardware specs were reasonably good.

  • I know for certain that Amazon is building up some GPU in their compute data clusters. I wonder if they're going to start to offer a game streaming service like OnLive. That would actually be pretty cool if they did it, not only video streaming, but game streaming also.
  • You Don't Know Jack still exists? Huh.

  • Does anyone know if its planned? The kindle fire has it, so I am confused why their desktop fire would not have it. Xbox wants 60 bucks for another year of Gold and the only reason I still use it is the xbox xfinity app.

You are in a maze of UUCP connections, all alike.

Working...