Less than a week into the new year, and Kickstarter is already shaking things up for the geek-friendly gaming crowd.
Following in the footsteps of some of 2012’s most successful Kickstarter projects (to date, eight of the top ten most-funded Kickstarter projects are video game related), casual game company PlayJam launched a campaign on Jan. 2 asking for $100,000 to help build a portable Android-based game console known as the "GameStick."
After blowing past its original goal in just 30 hours and topping $150,000 by Friday morning, PlayJam announced that GameStick will additionally offer support post-launch for two popular media center streaming services: the Digital Living Network Alliance’s (DLNA) “Universal Plug and Play” system, and the XBMC Foundation’s media player.
Much like the OUYA, GameStick’s creators said that they took inspiration from the openness and portability of Android gaming systems as a way to make an auspicious entrance into a struggling console market. But while the OUYA still maintains a clear element of “home” part of the “home entertainment console” in its design, PlayJam has labeled the GameStick as “The Most Portable TV games Console Ever Created.” The console part of the device is a 2-inch stick that can be fit inside its own controller for transportation and then plugged into a television.
XBMC and DLNA both offer a technological infrastructure that allows for media sharing between separate media devices and a wide variety of file types, so their introduction to the GameStick leaves room for expansion not only beyond the TV screen, but into other types of media beyond video games.
PlayJam CMO added that the support for XBMC and DLNA will be brought to the device by way of an “optional firmware update in September.” According to the timetable on its Kickstarter page, the GameStick is expected to ship to customers in April 2013.
PlayJam said that it is already working with over 250 developers for its launch catalogue, and more than 300 developers have registered on the GameStick website. This proliferation has already put a higher bar in place for game development before the platform has even been created; after reaching its original goal, the Kickstarter campaign added a new funding tier offering developers early access to its software development kit (SDK) and 30 days of choice placement on the console’s games store.
PlayJam, first founded in 1999, specializes in building social and casual games for a television audience through its Games Network for Smart TV. The company said that the GameStick will be based on its pre-existing network, which already supports a number of developers including Relentless Software, First Star Software, and Disney (NYSE: DIS).
The GameStick still has 27 days left on its Kickstarter campaign.
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