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Game Changers: Taking The Android Out Of The Phone

Game developers are making a radical bet on Android this year: They're creating game consoles that run on the open-source platform, which they hope will spark a thriving marketplace for games written by independent programmers, just as Apple's App Store did. That sets up a whole new list of competitions.

Android #1 I Ouya

The device comes out this month and reflects its creative cofounder, Yves Behar, with a geometrically minimalist controller and console.

  • COMPETES WITH: XBOX 360, PS4 Like those mainstream consoles, Ouya is a plug-into-the-TV device. That's its selling point, too: "We enable any creator to make a game for the TV," says Behar.

Android #2 I Gamestick

"We were keen to make this a truly social product," says CMO Anthony Johnson. The entire system is about the size of a USB drive and embedded in a controller, making it easy to bring to a friend's place.

  • COMPETES WITH: Ouya Ouya has Behar's star power, and the Gamestick comes out around the same time. Johnson will have to keep away from Ouya's shadow.

Android #3 I Project Shield

The device by Nvidia, which will be out later this year, promises to redefine portability: It's a controller with a built-in screen, but can hook up to any TV (via a cable) at any time, or stream to an Nvidia computer.

  • COMPETES WITH: Playstation Vita, Nintendo 3DS Unlike portable gaming devices on the market, Project Shield doesn't force users to choose how and where they play.

[Illustration by James Hood]

A version of this article appeared in the June 2013 issue of Fast Company magazine.