Gamers with a penchant for old school gaming have another platform to add to their entertainment mix: AirConsole is a recently launched browser-based games platform that repurposes players’ smartphones as controllers.
There’s no need to download any games or apps — or indeed, hunt out your Nintendo 64 and remember where you left the controllers… For a local multiplayer gaming session AirConsole is super simple to use — you just go to AirConsole.com on your computer and smartphone, entering the link code that’s shown on the bigger screen on your smaller screen — et voila, your phone becomes the touch pad to control the goings-on on the other screen. Neat.
The number of games is pretty limited at this nascent stage, but the team behind AirConsole is currently running a competition for devs to port titles (they say any browser-based game or Unity3d game can be ported).
In the meanwhile titles include TicTac Boom, Hit Parade and PolyRacer. There’s also an NES emulator, plus card games such as poker and Cards Against Humanity.
Of course AirConsole is not going to entice pro gamers. But it’s not trying to; it’s squarely targeting the casual social gaming crowd. Add to which, it’s cross platform and cross device — so you don’t need specific hardware to get a gaming session up and running.
The platform has been bagging early attention on Reddit — where one of its game developers describes it thus:
…it doesn’t need a lot of hardware: An average laptop will do. You won’t be able to play the newest AAA games with it, but that’s also not really what we’re all about. AirConsole is to play a few quick games with friends while having a beer. Think Mario Party. Except it’s really annoying to carry an N64 with 8 controllers (or a big gaming PC with 8 gamepads) somewhere, while AirConsole just needs a laptop or TV with a couple of smartphones, and you’re all good to play with as many people as you like.
Latency can be a slight issue with the link between computer and smartphone, depending on the device you’re using as a controller (AirConsole claims the experience is better using Android phones than iPhones — noting that devices that support WebRTC having latencies of between 1 and 10 milliseconds, while those without WebRTC support lag between 40 to 120 milliseconds). But given the old school gaming vibe it’s not necessary a big deal to have sporadic delays in gameplay.
N-Dream, the Zurich, Switzerland based startup behind AirConsole, started work on the concept back in January, with just under $1.4 million in initial capital — going on to launch the platform early last month (just before Apple took the wraps off its new Apple TV, which includes a touch-sensitive remote that doubles as a game controller).