The Roku 2 Gaming Gotcha

Dave Zatz —  July 20, 2011

Now that the Roku 2 is official, additional product details are trickling out. And while this Roku line initially launched as a digital media streamer (with just Netflix), and they’re approaching nearly 300 channels, the company intends to expand their appeal (and revenue) by embracing casual gaming. At just $100 for the Roku 2 XS and Bluetooth gaming wand/remote, they may indeed find an audience… if this Angry Birds enthusiasm is any indication (and legit). Presumably the updated platform includes an expanded SDK/API and a relaxation of channel sizes. Yet, it’s not enough to have a good idea and I question Roku’s execution…

Love playing games? This tiny MicroSD card expands the built-in storage capacity of your new Roku from 4 games to 60!

Seriously, the Roku2 XS can only contain 4 games out of the box? Or maybe it’s only three if the pre-loaded Angry Birds counts against the quota. Now Roku has always had a bit of a memory problem, as anyone who’s tried to add a couple dozen “channels” will tell you. But knowing what they had in the pipeline, the company should have integrated something a bit more substantial than 256MB. Folks intending to acquire via Roku.com may be sufficiently informed of the situation, and pick up the optional microSD card or pass on a purchase, but those who acquire a unit at Best Buy may be shocked (after the fact) by this klugey solution to a memory shortcoming. Geeks like us will have no conceptual or technical issues, but I’m not sure this is the sort of elegant solution that the mass market requires.

3 responses to The Roku 2 Gaming Gotcha

  1. Totally agree here Dave. I’ve no idea if something like this requires new FCC approvals or other complex manufacturing retools but it’s hard to understand the logic here. Obviously they will address this in the future revisions of the hardware but Anthony and crew need to do more here. Feels to me like this was a rushed delivery perhaps to get out in front of whatever it is we’re in for when the Apple TV gets a new iOS revision and probably some sort of gaming integration.

  2. True, but you could have said the same thing about all the stupid Blu-Ray players that required a 1GB stick to support the BDLive feature. Another stupid cost cutting move. And yet Blu-Ray soldiered on anyway. Still, a limit of FOUR games seems kind of short-sighted. Certainly if any of those games are going to have revenue associated with them.

  3. The Roku 2 uses channel caching, so it will download channels/apps on-demand, and cache the most frequently used ones. So, while starting a game may take a little longer as it downloads upon launch, you’ll be able to have as many games “installed” as you want. It’ll just be limited on how many it can cache locally.