Gaming peripherals giant Mad Catz has announced its plan to branch out into the games console market, following in the footsteps of Ouya and Shield with an Android-powered microconsole dubbed Project M.O.J.O.
Mad Catz' Mojo microconsole is to be based on Android, providing full access to the Google Play app store on any HDMI-connected display device.
The device, which we'll be calling Mojo from here on out for the sake of our full stop keys, has been revealed on the company's website
with gaming news site IGN
having been picked for an exclusive teaser reveal ahead of a planned formal unveiling at the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) later this week. Part of the Mad Catz GameSmart family, the microconsole is designed for use with existing Mad Catz mobile gaming peripherals including the CTRLR Bluetooth gamepad - one of which will be bundled in with the console at launch.
It's quite clear to see where Mad Catz got its inspiration: while final hardware specifications have yet to be decided, the device is going to be Android-based and likely ARM-powered - just like the Ouya microconsole, which found great success on crowd-funding site Kickstarter but which has yet to prove itself in the market as a finished product. Based on the same hardware found in smartphones and tablets and running Google's Linux-based open-source operating system, both devices are designed to bring mobile gaming off the small screen and into the living room - a concept which will likely not appeal to hardcore gaming types.
There are differences between Ouya and Mojo beyond the names and design: while the Ouya console relies heavily on a customised storefront and provides no official access to the Google Play app store, Mad Catz has paid for a full 'With Google' Android licence rather than opting for the free Android Open Source Project (AOSP) implementation - meaning users get total access to Google Play, including the ability to rent films, stream music and more importantly download all the games they've already bought on other Android-based devices.
Most of these games, sadly, will be designed for small-screen and touch-centric devices. Despite attempts to convince buyers otherwise, games like Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds work best when controlled with a finger - and games designed around a multi-touch interface are almost impossible to play any other way. While Mad Catz has confirmed it will be shipping the device with a Bluetooth gamepad, it will also support a mouse - connected via Bluetooth or to one of the console's two USB 2.0 ports - for gesture-type gaming.
There's a growing trend for mobile games to be more like their full-fat console counterparts, however. First-person shooters with graphics that can rival launch-day Xbox 360 games are increasingly common, and these games - played in concert with Mad Catz' dual-analogue gamepad - should work well on the Mojo. They can't rival the multi-gigabyte complexity of a real console game, of course - and any comparison to PC gaming will see the Mojo discarded out of hand - but with mobile games typically costing a fraction as much as their console counterparts it's a trade-off some may be willing to make.
Pricing and a launch date for the microconsole, which is to be unveiled at E3 in prototype form, have yet to be confirmed, with rumours suggesting Mad Catz is targeting a sub-$100 price tag for the device.