Rumors of a Google-branded Android gaming device have been swirling for quite a while now. With the OUYA carving a niche out for itself and the Amazon Fire TV still struggling to find a fanbase, it’s clear that Google would step into the Android gaming console race at some point. Today, they announced the Nexus Player. The device has a circular design, almost like a hockey puck, and comes with a remote with voice search (just like the Fire TV). The biggest deal here is the gamepad, which looks fantastic. Like the FireTV, it’s sold separately but unlike the Fire TV pad, it looks top-notch. The controller features a Dual Shock-style stick setup, with a Sony-style d-pad as well and Xbox One-colored buttons with the color just being the letter.
The gamepad has either a home or power button (could be both depending on how long it’s pressed), and the equivalent of start and select buttons. The recessed design of the buttons is a lot like the Xbox One’s guide button, so you shouldn’t hit it nearly as much as the Xbox 360 pad. It’s got an HDMI out and a 1.8 GHz quad-core processor with 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of on-board storage. It has a micro-USB 2.0 port, although it lacks a full-size USB port, so it would appear that external storage won’t be possible just yet.
Like the Fire TV, the gamepad being made optional means that it’s going to be marketed as a gaming device second to it being a media streamer. The device will be available for pre-order on October 17, but there’s no word the exact date of availability. Like the Fire TV, it could be available for purchase immediately when pre-orders go on sale. Exactly like the Fire TV, the device will cost $100 and the controller will be $40 – so Amazon’s recent $124 bundle will likely be expanded upon to include either a bigger price drop or more free games. It’s also possible that the bundle was created as a way to counter this announcement in and get some people on the Amazon bandwagon.