At a media event held in New York City today, online retail giant Amazon announced and released the Amazon Fire TV, a long rumored set-top box that functions identically to Apple’s Apple TV, Google’s Chromecast and Roku. Selling for $99 on Amazon’s store, Fire TV is armed with a number of features, including the ability to access Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, Hulu Plus, movie rentals, and of course, games.
The Fire TV unit, which fits in one’s palm, is equipped with a Qualcomm Quad Core Snapdragon Krait 300 processor with Adreno 320 GPU and 2 GB of RAM, hardware that apparently allows it to operate more efficiently than its competitors such as Apple TV, and allows it to run “powerful and immersive apps and games,” many of which are touted with an average price of $1.85, although free to play games are also available.
The unit includes a wireless remote that can also be used to play games, but Amazon is also offering an Amazon Fire Game Controller, looking very much like an Xbox controller, that can be bought separately for $40. Multiplayer is also supported on Fire TV, allowing up to seven remotes and game controllers to be connected to the unit, with each player having his or her own player ID.
Coinciding with the launch of Fire TV is Sev Zero, a tower defense/third-person shooter developed by Amazon Game Studios. The game is available on Amazon’s Appstore for $6.99 and is available for the Fire TV, while a companion app called Sev Zero: Air Support is available for the Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HDX and can be played in tandem with Sev Zero.
Fire TV ships with Sev Zero and 1000 Amazon Coins, which are worth $10 and can be used much like Microsoft Points to purchase apps.
Amazon has also promised future games from big-name developers like EA and Ubisoft. According to Gamespot, it has also hired Portal designer Kim Swift and Far Cry 2 designer Clint Hocking to work at Amazon Game Studios. The company also recently bought Double Helix Games, the studio behind Killer Instinct for the Xbox One and the Strider reboot.
According to this Reuters article, Amazon’s entry into a market dominated by the likes of Apple, Microsoft and Sony, all of whom have products that play games and stream TV shows and movies, has analysts divided on its prospects.