Yep, Roku 2 is a Game Console, Too

By  |  Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 8:50 am

Roku’s new streaming set-top boxes are smaller and sleeker than ever, but the bigger news is that the Roku 2 is the start of a serious push into home console gaming.

The high-end Roku 2 XS, which will launch later this month for $100, will include a Wii-like motion controller with a directional pad and two buttons (like an old-school Nintendo), plus a free copy of Angry Birds. The lower-tier Roku 2 HD ($60) and Roku 2 XD ($80) will also support the game controller, sold separately as a $30 bundle with Angry Birds and a 2 GB MicroSD card.

Roku expects gaming to be a big deal on its set-top boxes, and is working with casual game publishers to expand the platform. “Between now and Christmas you’ll see the games selection on Roku grow dramatically,” Anthony Wood, Roku’s founder and CEO, wrote on the company blog. “My goal is to grow Roku into a major low cost family oriented gaming platform, with games in the $5 range rather than $30 range.”

Wood may be onto something. I know dozens of people who played Nintendo as a kid, and play games on their smartphones or iPads, but they’ve avoided game consoles because the controllers are too complicated and the investment–in both time and money–is too big. Surely, there’s a market for smaller, cheaper, simpler gaming in the living room. Roku will be the first company to give it a shot. (Although as Dave Zatz notes, the Roku 2’s internal storage can only hold four games out of the box. That’ll have to change if Roku wants to drive lots of game sales.)

Oh, and I’m as sick of hearing about Angry Birds as you are. I’ve asked Roku what other games it’ll be offering on the new set-top boxes, and will post an update if I hear anything.


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11 Comments For This Post

  1. Renchub Says:

    TiVo has (had?) games as part of the extras but they were so annoying to play, I think I’ve played each on once.

  2. Dave Says:

    They should have used Android as the game OS. It's free and their customers would get access to lots of games.

  3. Muay Thai Says:

    True, would have been a good marketing move.

  4. BoB Says:

    Thank God they made the remote like a Wii controller. I still believe that Angry Birds is only fun to play during our spare time that is why it is a mobile game. Maybe Roku will find a hard time convincing people to buy this device. Good thing this media streaming device offers other things aside from gaming.

  5. Gary Says:

    I've had a Roku box for years and needed a new one. So, I'd ordered a Roku just a couple days before this post. It was already in the mail. Did they send the new model (same price as the old model)? Did they tell me that a new model would be shipping within a week? No on both counts. Watch out if you are buying Roku. Their customer support is lousy (not just this experience, but every attempt to get customer support on the old box was a bad experience – luckily the thing mostly just works).

  6. Dan Says:

    They have a 30day money back guaranty, so send it back and buy a new one from your local Best Buy or Frys. At Best Buy you can get a 2 year warranty for $9.99

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  10. Kevin Thornely Says:

    The Game console is really very nice and is fast and well advanced. A set top box with a game console in it saves a lot of time.
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  11. Brandon Slots Says:

    It is not surprising that even Roku wants a piece of the video game pie. There is no denying the the video game industry is a huge, multi billion dollar industry that everyone is vying for the piece of. The casual gaming market is a growing one, and growing exponentially. If Roku manages to improve its set top box, introduce more games and attract more people to buy its set top box, it might actually make a tidy profit from marketing to families.