Open Source Games Consoles

August 27, 2008 @ 12:04

gp2x.jpgI got an email this morning telling me that the GP2X I bought about 2 years ago is now even more out of date. Initially the original model was replaced with the new, shinier F200 version which looked largely the same, but this time in dazzling white rather than black. It also boasted a new firmware I couldn’t use, a touchscreen and many little improvements on the guts of the machine making it that little bit better in every way.

wiz.jpgNow Gamepark Holdings are releasing a slimmer, smaller version called the Wiz. Again it has a touchscreen, ARM processor, but this time it has a Li-ion battery, (I think) only the one processor, and several new features. Looking at it, and comparing it to the GP2X (and the GP32 before that) the community should be able to float it on a large amount of open source and free games, as well as the many retro emulators that the series supports. On top of that, an advert suggests that there will be several commercial games released for it. The GP2X had 2, one of them a GTA-like game that was actually very good, called Payback.

pandora.jpgI don’t know if it is intentional but there is another Open Source Handheld console being released soon, the Pandora. It would appear to be much more powerful, but I don’t know what the status on commercial games currently is.

Now, the main problem, the customers. Who will buy these? In general I don’t think gamers would, there simply aren’t enough games to play on them currently. The original GP2X had roughly the same graphics capability (albeit minus one screen) as the Nintendo DS, the Pandora looks to rival PSP graphics but both commercial consoles have a huge catalogue of high end, professional games. “Normal” gamers might really like Megadrive games, but a handheld emulator won’t necessarily entice all that many people. The next thing is the price. The Wiz is currently costing £125, the Pandora claims to cost £199 at release. The high price I can understand is probably not something anyone can do anything about but it is the killing blow for many potential buyers.
The bottom line is that unless one of the two consoles gets a couple of professional developers behind a couple of series’ of “proper” games then the only people interested would be gamers who have a large interest in open source software, not that large an audience. I think even “casual games” would not necessarily help, it would need something that would really attract a more normal gamer, pull them in, tie them up and not let them leave. Maybe sit there laughing at them before running off with their significant other.

Anyway, I digress. I have to admit to not knowing an awful lot about the games that are currently due for release for any open source console, maybe there’s a gem in them that would pull in the customers and reduce production costs etc. Maybe someone can educate me?

Now all that’s left is to decide which to get.