Mad Catz M.O.J.O. Joins the Android Game Console Craze

While Sony and Microsoft pour millions of dollars into bringing their next gaming systems to life, Mad Catz is working on its own console with just a couple of product developers.

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Jared Newman / TIME.com

While Sony and Microsoft pour millions of dollars into bringing their next gaming systems to life, Mad Catz is working on its own console with just a couple of product developers.

The Mad Catz M.O.J.O. is yet another Android-based game console, following the lead of Ouya, GameStick and GamePop. It includes a full-sized game controller, with thumbsticks, buttons, triggers and a row of media playback buttons for music and video.

Unlike Ouya and GameStick, which have their own interfaces and app stores, M.O.J.O. runs a stock version of Android with Google Play, Amazon Appstore and Nvidia TegraZone pre-loaded. If you already have a big library of games on an Android phone or tablet, you won’t have to re-purchase those games on M.O.J.O.

The downside to Mad Catz’s approach is that the Android interface isn’t really designed for game controllers. You can move around the Android home screen with the M.O.J.O. controller’s thumb sticks, and Mad Catz is also planning cursor emulation on the controller, but both methods are essentially workarounds for Android’s touch-oriented software. Also, M.O.J.O. users will have to find controller-supported games on their own; neither Google Play nor Amazon make these games easy to find. It’s clearly a solution for Android enthusiasts who aren’t afraid to mess around, rather than a seamless product for casual users.

I had a chance to try the M.O.J.O. briefly at E3, and was pleased with how the system performed while playing the zombie shooter Dead Trigger. Still, it’s too early to render a verdict on the controller and the system as a whole. Daniel Nuth, one of the two product developers working on the M.O.J.O., told me that the controller and system are still in production. Mouse emulation wasn’t available yet, and Mad Catz is still working on a way to clip a smartphone onto the controller, turning it into a portable game system. (The Moga Pro controller by PowerA already does something similar.)

Although Android games are far less impressive than what you’d find on proper game consoles, the quality of these games is quickly improving. It’s not crazy to think that a cheap console with mobile games could soon be good enough for casual players, especially with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One priced at $400 and $500, respectively. More competition among these low-cost alternatives is only going to help move things forward.

Mad Catz, whose main business is peripherals for existing consoles, hasn’t announced a price and release date yet for M.O.J.O., but the company expects to ship the system toward the end of the year.