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3 Reasons Why Google’s Acquisition of Green Throttle Matters

Google recently acquired multiple assets from Green Throttle Games. The terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed, but co-founders Matt Crowley and Karl Townsend have joined the Google team. The third co-founder, Charles Huang, who is best known as the co-creator of the Guitar Hero games, still holds the rights to what is left of Green Throttle. It is unclear what the company will focus on now.

Although Green Throttle has only just now been acquired by Google, the two companies have had a relationship for well over a year, due to Green Throttle’s involvement with Android (which Google acquired back in 2005). Like a number of other companies, including Ouya, GameStick and Google’s own Project Shield, Green Throttle has been vying for a spot on gamers’ couches worldwide by developing an Android-based gaming console. Green Throttle’s structure was unique, containing both a controller – called the Atlas – and an app – called Arena – that could be used together with any Android device.

The setup accommodated multiple controller inputs on a single device and enabled users to connect any Android device to a television, using the controller and app to turn the Android device into a gaming console. Green Throttle also developed source development kit (SDK), which would effectively allow developers to build games specifically for the platform, instead of just converting mobile games. This would enhance the user experience and make the mobile games more suitable to living room play. This idea, however, never quite caught on and the Arena app was pulled from the Android Marketplace in November 2013.

So why does Google’s acquisition of a defunct gaming company matter?

  1. It gives credibility to speculation about a forthcoming Google set-top box. Rumors have been circulating that Google is working to develop an Android-powered set-top box for TVs, enabling Google to compete with Apple TV. Green Throttle’s three-part structure could allow Google’s set-top box to have a built-in way to play Android games with a controller, which is something that other products on the market do not offer. These added features could drive consumers to purchase Google’s product over competitors’ such as Apple and Amazon.
  2.  It gives Google a leg up in the arms race. Many other large tech companies, such as Amazon and Apple, are said to be considering the development of set-top boxes. Samsung, which already offers a set-top box product, was reportedly interested in acquiring Green Throttle, as well. This makes Google’s acquisition of Green Throttle both an offensive and a defensive move – it not only has the potential of enabling Google to release a set-top box with gaming capabilities built in, but also helps the company stop Samsung from improving their already-established product.
  3. It has future implications. This acquisition could bode well for Google in the future, as the mobile gaming industry continues to expand. Just a simple look at the Google Play and Apple App Stores reveal this persisting growth, as both continue to be flooded with mobile games. Green Throttle’s assets could help Google both take advantage of the growing mobile gaming market, and potentially shake up the gaming industry. By including Green Throttle’s Android-based gaming technology in its potential set-top box product, Google creates an opportunity to drive users toward the Android platform. The product could also pave the way for Google to develop a gaming console of their own, in an attempt to challenge Sony and Microsoft in the gaming console arms race.
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