You have to do mobile gaming to be successful in the long-term.”
This is how Dan Doughty, director of business development at Snail Games USA, introduces the company’s upcoming mobile-meets-home console device, the OBox.
Designed to bridge the gap between the graphical prowess of the PS4 and Xbox One and the pick-up-and-play convenience of smartphones, the OBox is built on an Android operating system.
It’s not an original concept – from the Ouya to the Mad Catz MOJO, Android boxes are now a common sight.
But Doughty says that the OBox will stand apart by providing a level of performance akin to a fully-fledged console.
The problem with the Ouya was that it was taking existing mobile games and blowing them up onto a big screen,” he states. It wasn’t capable of processing high-definition video the way video games need to be when they’re blown up onto a big screen.”
This focus on high-quality gaming is best seen in the OBox’s potential display output; the machine features support for 4K video.
The machine is also modular, allowing consumers to swap out older components for improved hardware in the future.
It’s a bold claim that an Android-powered device could take on the new consoles from the two biggest companies in games – but Doughty says the OBox’s ability to be upgraded will see it come to the forefront for players as the PS4 and Xbox One start to age.
The Xbox One is already two generations behind, as is the PS4, in processing data and video,” he says.
They will four or five generations behind by their end-of-life. That’s not acceptable in a technology-driven world.
Video games used to be synonymous with pushing the leading edge of technology – that’s really fallen by the wayside. Now, PCs are pushing video gaming because the consoles don’t do it, and mobile devices aren’t able of doing it.
We’re trying to push the technology again in a way that it’s not being pushed.”
It will be a year or two before you move a franchise level product like Call of Duty over to an Android system and make it look as good as it does on Xbox One."
Dan Doughty, Snail Games
Of course, it’s not all about the technology.
Content is key, so we’re driving content very hard,” says Doughty.
Having announced Snail’s first deal with mobile studio Gameloft, Doughty says there are ‘many, many more’ partners to be revealed pre-E3.
There’s also the firm’s own hit property, Age of Wushu. The MMO currently sees more than 5.5 million monthly users, and is set to come to the OBox.
Doughty states that bigger outlets and titles will move across as they realise the potential of Android.
It will be a year or two before you move a franchise level product like Call of Duty over to an Android system and make it look as good as it does on Xbox One,” he says.
The lower pricing of Android titles will also be a big draw for consumers, Doughty argues.
You’ll see things like Asphalt 8 doing surprisingly well because they’re all of the things that people are looking for, without the overhead of having to pay $50 to $70.
It doesn’t make sense in this world having to pay that kind of money simply because of the format you’re developing for.”
Doughty concludes that high-end Android systems such as the OBox mark a change in consumer demand.
It’s not about what we want to give the market; it’s what the market wants from us.”