Sep 5, 2012
While the exact state of the portable gaming remains a hot topic, there are very few facts that are impossible to argue. The industry as we have known ever since the first GameBoy is slowly dying. Taken over by independent developers and smartphones, the single use portable gaming console idea is quickly seeming obsolete along with the idea of brick-and-mortar stores with game cartridges. Portable games now are less of an investment and more of a way to waste a few minutes on the bus or before a lecture. People unfortunately do not want to play God of War on a small 4.5″ screen between their hands when they can witness it in full HD on a 45″ plasma screen in their living room. The games that are meant to be on small screens so close to the player’s fingers are the kind of games that smart phones have been ushering in; the Angry Birds and Cut the Rope’s of the gaming world. While some hardcore PSP or DS fanboys may disagree, it is very hard to argue that the portable gaming that we are familiar with will be almost extinct come five years.
Recognizing this trend, a small startup, PlayMG, has been quietly developing its own Android-powered portable gaming device that would cater directly to those who just want their addictive 5-10 minute gaming bites. Their product is the MG; the first portable Android based gaming device. Without the ability to text or make phone calls, consider the MG an android version of the iPod touch. With the MG there is access to the full breadth of the Android Market which will supply endless hours of entertainment for a fraction of the cost of big budget PSP or DS games.
Because the MG will naturally appeal to kids there are great parental control tools, including a free app that lets parents know exactly what apps their kids are downloading and playing. Also included is a prepaid credit card that allows kids to purchase apps without the parent being charged $0.99 every time. Parents load this digital wallet up with as much money as they see fit and once the money is gone their child cannot make another purchase until more money is placed back onto the card. Also, similar to XBox Live, MG has its own avatar and profile system that allows for easy connection between friends.
The whole device looks great and has a nice large 4″ screen surrounded by ergonomically-designed rubber bumpers. My main concern for the device is weather or not there is enough of a need in the marketplace for it, but because the target audience is so specific, teens under-18 without smartphones, and because the MG is only retailing for around $100, I feel confident enough that it could easily become a hit. There are plenty of parents who have major qualms about giving their children expensive smartphones but feel pressured because of their child’s want for all those shiny and colorful games. Fortunately for them, MG fills in that gap and might be the closest thing the iPod touch has seen to a competitor in years.