Amazon's Fire TV Could Woo Indie Developers

Louis Bedigian, Benzinga Staff Writer

Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have fought for the support of independent developers, but their job could get a lot more difficult now that Amazon (AMZN) has entered the fray.

Christine Arrington, the Senior Games Analyst at IHS Electronics & Media (IHS), believes that Amazon's new set-top box, Fire TV, could prove to be very attractive to the indie development community.

"I think this is probably the most interesting aspect of this particular device -- Amazon's ecosystem," Arrington told Benzinga. "They have probably the biggest experience in working with independent content creators. If you look at their partnerships with independent authors and even small stores -- you're looking at a tiny store in Nebraska that can become an affiliate and sell whatever goods they want on Amazon."

Arrington thinks that a lot of indie developers might look at Amazon as a way to deliver console-type games or more in-depth casual-type games to the mass market. She anticipates that a "very interesting development paradigm could come out of this," where hybrids of console and mobile games are developed.

"I'm really interested to see what content creators do," she said.

Video First: Good For Amazon, Bad For Microsoft?

In May 2013, Microsoft tried (and ultimately failed) to promote Xbox One with a number of TV and video features.

This proved to be a bad move, so Microsoft quickly reversed course and took Xbox back to its gaming roots.

Amazon, on the other hand, did not develop a game console. It created a set-top box that is designed to be an entertainment hub for everyday consumers.

Because of this, Arrington believes that Amazon will actually have an advantage at retail -- not over Xbox but over other Android game machines.

"There's still some information outstanding on the game side," said Arrington. "I think they're focusing so much on the video side right now. That actually kind of bodes well for the game side. So many Android devices have been focused just on gaming that they haven't really reached the mass market. The way Amazon is approaching is that it's a video device but you can play games on it, much like the more successful Android devices."

Arrington compared the current crop of Android game consoles to the N-Gage and other mobile phones that focused specifically on gaming.

"They were game devices, and then they were phones secondarily," she said. "But with the phone, the primary use of it is communication, so that never really flew. [N-Gage] was a really cool novelty device, but people wanted their phones to be able to communicate and do it easily and clearly and have that main function work. To this day, communication is the most important aspect of the phone even though gaming is a huge part of it now."

Fire TV isn't a phone, nor is it a new communication device. But as a lower-cost video streaming device, it speaks to an audience that is potentially larger than the one the average game console can reach.

Thus, investors shouldn't expect Fire TV to outsell PlayStation 4 or Xbox One anytime soon. But it could easily trounce its game-specific Android competitors (such as Ouya) and should prove to be a formidable competitor to Chromecast, Roku and Apple TV.

Disclosure: At the time of this writing, Louis Bedigian had no position in the equities mentioned in this report.


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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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