First Impressions of Razer’s Cortex

As Razer’s new game storefront, Cortex, begins to come to users through a software update, users can now experience the combination of Android TV and OUYA games. Chris Hollis, a dedicated member of the Android TV community, shares screenshots and some of his experience below.

Software update fH73 enables Cortex
Software update fH73 enables Cortex

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The version of the OS is Lollipop 5.1.

Discover Row

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Users will see a row called “Discover” show the Cortex store as well as three games that Razer seems to be recommending. These games can’t be removed, and opening one directs you to the Google Play Store, not Cortex. It’s an odd design choice that will likely be corrected in a second update.

Setting Up Cortex

Logo
Logo
You're asked to create a Razer account
You’re asked to create a Razer account

When you first open up Cortex, you will not be signed in with a Razer account. When you sign in, you’ll be able to use that account to purchase apps and games.

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If you previously owned an OUYA, you can link your Razer account to your OUYA account. OUYA owners get $10 in credit when they link accounts. Additionally, your purchased games from OUYA will be accessible on the Forge TV if the developer supports it.

Navigating through Cortex

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This dialog pops up when you first enter the store, reiterating the same message as before: Cortex is designed for both indie developers and AAA development studios.

There are several different categories along the left-hand side
There are several different categories along the left-hand side

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The first screen that appears is a grid of games currently trending, likely those games that are being downloaded the most. Those games are freemium, being free to download, but the asterisk implying that there is a hidden cost somewhere down the line.

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The genres category expands to show a list of genres that users can pick from. The adventure genre shows some of the top adventure games such as two games in the Oddworld series (both of which are also available through Google Play). Cortex is not only showing exclusives, but any sort of game that is available.

In the bottom left corner of the screen you can see the number of players who are currently connected as well as controls for the store. You can clearly use A and B to select and go back, respectively.

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Y opens up the search interface, where you can find both apps and games.

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It’s clear that Cortex is game-oriented, as apps is just considered a genre, shoved at the bottom of the list of gaming genres.

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Emulators is also a genre that appears at the bottom. This is a nice touch as the emulators themselves don’t usually fit in a specific category and it makes it easy to find the best one to play a given game.

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When you find the app or game, you can use the X button to quickly start downloading it or press A to open up more details about it. You can quickly get more information about a game’s size, release date, version, and number of players. You are able to see the price as well as be informed that a game does (or does not) include in-app purchases.

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Interestingly, although some games like Whispering Willows are on sale, the price does not reflect the discount. In Google Play, the price is correctly $2.00. Cortex does not seem to be able to take into account sales right now.

Netflix

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Some users have reported that Netflix now plays on their devices, but support seems to be intermittent. Chris said it was working the other day, but now does not. It does show up in the Google Play Store, so Netflix and Razer do seem to be working on support.

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However, some users will see this error displayed if they try to open the app.

 

Conclusion

It’s early days for Cortex, but it appears like Razer has done a good job of creating an initial product. There are a few ways that they create a good user experience. The real test is being able to sustain game releases in the coming weeks and months. This will have to be paired with improved marketing to get more consumers buying a Razer Forge TV.

Razer does seem to be putting a good effort into the Razer Forge TV. Netflix support should come in an update pretty soon, and we’ll likely hear more from them at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) soon.

Nick Felker

Nick Felker

Nick Felker is a student Electrical & Computer Engineering student at Rowan University (C/O 2017) and the student IEEE webmaster. When he's not studying, he is a software developer for the web and Android (Felker Tech). He has several open source projects on GitHub (http://github.com/fleker)Devices: Moto G-2013 Moto G-2015, Moto 360, Google ADT-1, Nexus 7-2013 (x2), Lenovo Laptop, Custom Desktop.Although he was an intern at Google, the content of this blog is entirely independent and his own thoughts.

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  • Kawshik Ahmed

    Did someone try to sideload the Cortex Store to other Android TV devices ??

    • NF

      I have not found the raw apk yet.