Amazon held an event/party in a loft a couple blocks from the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) last week to highlight the Fire TV’s present and upcoming gaming library. They invited press, game developers, and even some local Fire TV owners to have some fun for a couple hours and play some games. I was lucky enough to receive an invitation and made the short trek out. Here are some of the highlights from the night.
The turnout to the event was pretty good. Amazon had about a dozen TVs setup, each with their own Fire TV and game controllers, which featured specific games from the Fire TV’s game library. Stationed at each TV was either a member of Amazon’s appstore team or the developer of the game being featured. It was a great experience to play a game next to, and even with, the actual person who made the game while we talked about its various nuances. I got to meet Garnett Lee and Tyler Cooper who, among other things, host the Fire TV’s official Twitch channel. They were both really nice, and Cooper is a big fan of AFTVnews and I know he wasn’t just saying so because he recognized me before I introduced myself. So go subscribe to their Twitch channel and show them some love from the AFTVnews community.
The party had a live DJ and an open bar which made for a relaxed and fun atmosphere. Waiters and waitresses were constantly walking around with hors d’oeuvres to munch on. Judging by the free swag being given out, the event was, at least in part, sponsored by GameFly. One of the Amazon employees I spoke with said they had the idea to throw the party together just a week or two prior. I commend them because they did a great job of not making it feel like a stiff corporate event, but rather genuinely fun.
There was a Crossy Road competition where the night’s highest scorer received a free Fire TV. I’m not sure what the top score was, but I believe it was around 250 when I had my, admittedly pathetic, go at the prize.
One of the upcoming Fire TV games I played was Party Hard, a game which the developer delightfully descibes as “a tactical strategy game of mass murder.” In the game, your neighbor is throwing an obnoxiously loud party and you need to quiet things down by systematically murdering the party guests as they wander off alone out of sight. The game was a lot of fun to play, and the developer seemed genuinely excited about the Fire TV as a dominant micro-gaming platform. Look for the game to be released for Fire TV devices later this year.
Another unreleased game, coming to the Fire TV later this year, that I played was Gunsport. The simplest way to described it is volleyball with guns. You can play one-on-one or two-on-two multiplayer matches, as well as games versus the computer. It will also feature online multiplayer. The controls and character movement felt a bit clunky, but the developer told me I was playing an early build and that the game was still under development, so I won’t knock it just yet. The Fire TV could use more local multiplayer game options, and I can see the potential for Gunsport to fill the gap a bit.
GameFly, the new cloud gaming service exclusively on the Fire TV, had a strong showing and attracted a crowd at each of their multiple stations. Some of the attendees that I spoke with didn’t even realize GameFly’s games weren’t being run locally on the Fire TV, which is the ultimate indication that the service really works well. A GameFly engineer on hand was rightfully proud of their accomplishment and even had one of their stations deliberately using Wifi, instead of the ethernet connection Amazon provided, in order to show of the service’s robustness. When I asked about the service’s slightly outdated game offering, he acknowledged that they’re aware of the issue and assured me that they’re actively working on bring fresh titles to the platform.
Some of the currently released games that were featured at the event are Tales from the Borderlands, Luftrausers, OlliOlli, and Space Marshals, including several others. Speaking of Space Marshals, the developers were excited to announce that they’ll be bringing their latest game, Xenowerk, to the Fire TV very soon.
All and all, it was a great event that showed Amazon is committed to maintaining the Fire TV as a serious gaming platform. The Fire TV Stick’s immense success has made me question whether Amazon would shift the focus of the next generation Fire TV away from gaming and processing power in order to offer a lower priced video streaming device. If the enthusiasm at this event is any indication, that won’t be the case.