Open-source gaming Wiz finds its niche

Wiz unlikely to make a mainstream splash, but if it can teach game manufacturers how to invite a community into the development process, it will have succeeded.

I don't think there's much of a mainstream future for the Wiz, a new open-source gaming unit from GamePark Holdings, but that may be the point:

...[T]he question of whether or not the device can truly challenge the Nintendo DS and the PlayStation Portable is liable to arise when discussing the advent of any mainstream open-source portable. While the Wiz may never be able to capture the mass market in a significant way, the attractive device could become a hit amongst savvy gamers: the flexibility of the device is extraordinary, and making use of homebrew doesn't require time-consuming firmware hacking that could irreversibly damage the device.

It's a capable device (ARM9 533MHz processor with a 3D accelerator, 64MB of RAM, 1GB of built-in NAND flash memory, etc.), with a capable community: unlike many open-source projects, the Wiz has a built-in developer audience that loves to play games and hence may turn its attention to creating games for the Wiz, as well as updating its Linux-based firmware to improve the Wiz.

Will it go mainstream? Almost certainly not. But perhaps the Wiz will point the way for Nintendo and other gaming manufacturers to improve the transparency and malleability of their own devices to make innovation more of a community effort. Probably not, but it's possible.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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