Controller with the stick in the slot
It actually turned up
Ubisoft Partnership could be interesting
How the hell am I meant to get a Logcat to see what happens when things crash
The biggest button on the remote is ideal for children to press and quit you out of a game
The tactile finish is already peeling. In fact, it was peeling when I got the controller out of the box. Awesome
The controller is not actually the most comfortable thing in the world, specifically for the shoulder buttons
Massive delays makes me want to blend it.
No Google play store
Games Library is pretty small, but it is growing.
The GameStick was a Kickstarter project launched on January 2nd 2013, which I backed on the 4th Jan 2013. It was expected to deliver in April, which I figured would be more like June/July. In part, this was because of how many pledges they received. in total there were 5691 backers. Whilst not the biggest project numbers in the history of KickStarter, they did manage to rake in 6x their target. Also, as anybody who has even looked at KickStarter would know, delays are to be expected.
There does come a point where the delays are unreasonable, especially when there is little to no communication until the very last minute. This happened on a couple of occasions - Mere weeks, maybe days, before it was expected to ship we were told it would be another month or two. In reality, we did not receive it until early November, with some backers still having not received theirs (as of 28/11/2013). It is now on full retail sale.
Sure, it does take a lot of work to bring a product from concept to finished retail product. I get that. What I don’t get it how I can ever expect there to be a high level of customer support when the whole of the KickStarter Campaign was filled with delays on getting information. At one point The Verge erroneously stated that it had begun shipping in August, published on August 29, 2013 . I made countless attempts to get GameStick / PlayJam to comment on this, as did others, but it wasn’t until September 12th, 2013 that they actually commented on it official. That’s almost 2 weeks of allowing misinformation to exist. I dread to think how long it will take to get an answer from support if this is anything to go by!
This may be a just be another cautionary tale about KickStarter.
That said, I am going to try to remain as unbiased as possible whilst doing this review. It may not be easy for me, so expect mini rants at the odd occurrence.
Anyway, now that is over with, let’s get to the actual review.
The stick feels okay. Nothing spectacular to report here. When it is turned on, the lights do tend to show up more than they would if it were a more premium piece of plastic. It gets incredibly hot during use, though. Not that you’ll be touching it, but it is a concern. Just make sure you have enough ventilation for it.
This could be better, especially considering one of my controllers had the soft touch covering peeling off as soon as I unboxed it. I wasn’t impressed with that. Other than that, the controller feels sturdy enough - It has taken a beating from my 20 month old, and my 5-year-old. The analogue sticks do feel a little off, though. The sensitivity of them is shocking - they act more like a D-Pad. I don’t know if this is a build quality issue, or a software issue, or both. Either way, it is pretty poor to use. Aiming in ShadowGun is impossible.
Oh, no, wait. They still haven’t shipped this as of November 28th, 2013. Guess what? We haven’t really been told what the hell is going on with this. We were told on November 7th, 2013, that these would be shipping Mid November. By this point, I think they are laughing at us. They did post a KB article about this. Just in case the link dies in the future, it looks like this.
Update: 01/05/2014 - Still no dock. I fear these are now lost in the abyss and shall never see the light of day. Perhaps they are actually anti-matter and have been annihilated.
Setup is actually pretty easy. There are a few steps, such as picking your language and connecting to a network so that it can download updates, and an accounts binding page to activate your GameStick. That is presuming that you are actually able to connect to WiFi, which a number of people on the KickStarter comments page have commented on. You can use a USB Y cable to add Ethernet if you have the parts, but that should not be necessary at all.
Again, as I can’t take screenshots, I will have to rely on their images provided to me. They look roughly like what I encountered.
Throughout the kickstarter campaign, there was a lot of debating and mention of how open the GameStick would be. The initial listing even went to great lengths to say how open it would be to develop on.
The mobile games market thrives on the use of open platforms and we wanted to bring the same ethos to TV. Open, so that more developers can innovate and develop quickly. Open, so that players can access more great games and get better pricing. Open because it’s about time that the walls keeping independent developers out are smashed down. And so, harnessing the Android ecosystem, GameStick is a completely open platform. If you love creating or playing games, you will love GameStick.
Now, this does state that is towards development, implying that anyone can get the SDK and start developing.
That got me into questioning how open this actually is. Again, on KickStarter, root, and hacking support had been mentioned in the past. It is something they said they would encourage. Or so I thought - After having received my unit, there is no way to get to the system settings, and no way to open ADB. You can supposedly get ADB over wireless, but I’ve not had much luck. This means it is pretty much locked down from anything I would know how to do. Is that open? I’d say not. That’s pretty closed down. How am I ever going to test a game on my device without being able to put it on? Maybe I should have gotten the Dev unit.
Finally, however, you can convert your retail stick to a developer stick by heading to the Gamestick Developer Resource Pages.
I should have gotten a OUYA. Better yet, saved my money. Maybe I should have bought a tablet, plugged tablet into my TV, and used a normal controller such as the MOGA.
Personal issues aside?
Yeah, it is actually an okay device. My daughter loves playing Ski Safari on it, and Heroes of Loot. It works fine for casual gameplay. It doesn’t have Minecraft though, this caused a bit of contention. It plays well, is stable (mostly), and offers something for everyone. Just be glad you didn’t back it.