It is a sign of things to come. Chinese game developers Snail Games recently took the opportunity presented by the CES trade show in Las Vegas to announce that they have made a move into hardware. Previously, Snail Games had concentrated on the software. But their release of three bespoke gaming devices represents a radical shift in strategy. And it is a change that perhaps suggests the shape of things to come.

Catering for the gaming appetite

With options for mobile phones becoming ever more niched as they seek to find the perfect balance between gaming and communication, Snail’s offering is targeted towards gaming. Their hardware has the look of something more familiar to console gamers than gamblers looking for casinos online and the latest casino games. However, for all the huge range of activities that go under the heading ‘gaming’, you cannot fault Snail for their ambition.

High spec no specs

Snail’s new products constitute two smartphone android gaming handsets and a gaming console. These are branded as the W and W 3D smartphones and the Obox gaming console. The latter can either co-ordinate with the smartphones or use a standalone controller. They are notable for that hook in with the console, the presence of physical gaming controls, a 3D screen and the integration of eye-tracking technology. Clearly, the big idea is to take the best features of a PlayStation Vita, the Nintendo 3DS and an Android smartphone in order to combine them into one device. It is not the worst idea in the world and there is probably a viable market for such a hybrid. Even so, we are not yet anticipating that these devices are going to take the world by storm.

Where’s the beef?

But before we get too sniffy, we should point out that they deliver what they promise to a more than satisfactory standard. No one is going to ask ‘where’s the beef with the W 3D?’. The dual-sim W 3D features a 1080i resolution and 16GB of RAM. It is certainly not undercooked. There is a speedy 2.2GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6595 processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, a 13-megapixel camera and support for both 4G LTE and CDMA. There is also a huge 4,000 mAh battery. The company claims that battery should last the entire day, or around six hours of continuous gaming. A MicroSD card slot and two SIM card slots are also built in.

The eye-tracking technology is used to activate the 3D feature for movies and games. Although it has only one setting, rather than the three of the Nintendo 3DS, it is comfortable to use and the 3D rendering is persuasive. Different game layers are identifiably distinct and the eye tracking looks like a device that we will be seeing more of.

The Oxbox console boasts a 4K resolution and it too entails that 3D capability. Also like the W and W 3D, the OBox will run an Android-based OS. That suggests that it comes with access to the Google Play store. All three devices come with pre-installed free games. Details on this point are vague at this stage but those games are in all likelihood the company’s own titles.

Just the beginning

As a first step into the ever-competitive hardware market, Snail earn full marks for effort. Without the push that a recognisable brand identity ensures, they are bound to find large-scale sales difficult. But we get the impression that this is just the start. If this is what they can achieve at the first time of asking, they are undoubtedly worth keeping an eye on. If you wanted to be clever, you could even say that they are worth eye tracking! What is more, we are not expecting them to move as slowly as their name implies. Snail look like an outfit who are going places.

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