April 10, 2013, 8:30 AM —
I'm an Android fan and a gamer, but I don't spend much time playing games under Android. I just don't like playing games using touch controls, even if some Android games look interesting. That's one of the reasons I backed the Ouya console. I want to experience some of these titles using a physical controller.
The Ouya started shipping to backers on March 28th, but so far I haven't gotten a notice that mine is in the mail. Some backers have theirs and we've seen some fairly mediocre reviews. Ouya spokespeople are arguing that backers are beta testers and the units shouldn't be reviewed until June when the console officially launches. That sounds like spin to me, but as I'm still waiting, I can't really comment about the quality of the device. Polygon has more on that situation.
In the meantime there are other options for Android gaming with real controls. There's the Gamestick, which is a tiny thumb-drive shaped dongle that you plug into an HDMI MHL port (or, if your set doesn't have HDMI MHL, you can use adapters/additional power cables). It was supposed to be out by now too, but it's been delayed until June. Gamestick says it's a victim of it's own success. TechCrunch has additional details.
But maybe you don't need to buy a whole new device just to experience Android gaming using a real controller. If you happen to be a Sony Xperia smartphone owner, you may be in luck. Sony says that they've added native DualShock 3 support (that's the Playstation 3 controller) to its Xperia line. If your phone has HDMI out, hook it up to the TV, link your PS3 controller and voila, micro-console. If you already own a PS3 your only expense will be an adapter cable and you may even have one of those laying around. Here's a walk-through:
Syncing a PS3 controller with an Android device isn't really news; there are 3rd party solutions to accomplish the same thing. But Sony has made it all much easier and more 'mainstream' with this new update.
One more topic to cover, and that's Green Throttle. They make a $40 controller that works with your existing Android device. They might be a good choice if you don't have an Xperia phone or a PS3 controller. They're in the news this week because they're developing their own game, putting to work a group of ex-Bioware game makers who now call themselves Hungry Moose Games.
Of course Green Throttle isn't the only company making a controller intended to connect to your existing Android device. As these add-ons become more common, the window for devices like Ouya and Gamestick continues to close. What we really need is an easy to use, lag-free wireless video system built into our handsets, so our phone can sit on the coffee table, take input from a controller in our hands, and send output to the TV, all without having to plug in any cables. At that point Ouya and Gamestick may as well pack it in, and I don't think we have long to wait for such a system.
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.