Despite Amazon VP Pete Larsen’s insistence that it “isn’t trying to be a game console,” Amazon’s new set-top-box with gaming functionality, the Fire TV, made a bit of a spark this week in gaming news.
Unveiled and released in the US on April 2, the little black box boasted not only high quality streaming, varied apps such as photo uploading and music, Voice-activated search with an internal microphone, Kindle Fire Connectivity (not unlike the Playstation Vita with other Playstation devices), but the ability to play games with the purchase of a compatible bluetooth controller.
Amazon’s already grabbed considerable talent for the gaming end of the device, with companies like Mojang, Ubisoft, and Take Two willing to show their support. Telltale Games even threw their hat in the ring, with Season One of The Walking Dead available for the Fire TV at launch, while The Wolf Among Us, The Walking Dead Season Two, and Game of Thrones will be available later this year.
As far as their own in-house game studio, Amazon Game Studios, Amazon’s building up its own roster of talent, such as designers Kim Swift — known for her work on Portal — and Clint Hocking — known for his work on Far Cry 2 — joining their ranks.
And yet Pete Larsen does not recognize the device as a game console. “”This isn’t trying to be a console,” he told Engadget in an interview, “but we do think there’s a great opportunity there in between a console and a smartphone for fun, quality games.”
Regardless of what it’s considered, alongside the rather lengthy list of launch titles for the Fire TV — many of which are games that can already be found on Playstation Network, Xbox Live, Google Play, or Steam, such as Sonic CD, Terraria, and Prince of Persia: The Shadow and the Flame — Amazon released a game exclusive to the Fire TV: Sev Zero. Sev Zero is, according to VG24/7, “a hybrid of third person shooter and tower defense,” and was developed in-house at Amazon Game Studios.
Amazon assures consumers that not only will they be releasing high quality games, but that the Fire TV has the hardware to pull it off.
Here are the specs, according to iFixit and VG24/7:
– Android and HTML-based OS
– Quad-core, 1.7 GHz Processor
– Qualcomm Adreno 320 dedicated GPU
– 2 GB RAM at 533 MHz
– 8 GB internal storage
– MIMO Wi-Fi
– Bluetooth 4.0
All of this is packed in a single unit that costs $99 USD at launch, not counting the $39.99 Amazon Fire controller. Purchase of a Fire TV includes a 30-day free trial for both Amazon Prime and Netflix. Games range from Free to $6.99 each, with the average price in the $1-2 range.
The Fire TV is currently available in North America, but Amazon’s given no word of either a release date or a price in the UK.