With all eyes always on Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) rumor mill for what its upcoming "game changers" might be, rivals have been trying to pre-emptively launch products that the Mac maker may be working on. For instance, when the iWatch rumors surfaced, Samsung said it was building a Galaxy Altius smartwatch.

There are clear signs that Apple is looking to further embrace gaming, likely with its rumored Apple TV. The company quietly introduced support for third-party hardware controls in the latest version of iOS, a first for Apple. iOS has become a vibrant gaming platform. Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Android has long supported such controllers, which has given the rival platform an advantage among hardcore gamers.

To that end, The Wall Street Journal says that Big G is working on both an own Android game console and smartwatch. Both would compete with two product categories that Apple is widely expected to enter in the near future. On top of that, the search giant is also supposedly working on a newer version of its Nexus Q streaming device, which was axed before it even shipped last year.

Google has seen Ouya's tremendous traction right out of the gate. The $99 Android-based open gaming platform launched late last month and quickly sold out at several major retailers, indicating that gamers are ready for a new gaming model.

Ouya runs on an NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA) Tegra 3 processor and other smartphone components. Considering NVIDIA's advantages in graphics and strong brand presence within the gaming community, it would make a lot of sense for Google's console to sport a beefier Tegra 4 chip. The Nexus Q was packing a Texas Instruments OMAP chip before it was canned, and TI has publicly exited the sector. There have been rumors that Qualcomm has grabbed the spot in the second-generation Nexus 7 away from NVIDIA, but a Tegra-powered Nexus gaming console could be a consolation prize.

Google has been aggressively expanding into hardware over the past few years, a departure from its historical focus on search and services. The Nexus family expanded into tablets last year, and nearly included a streaming set-top box. Adding in a lightweight Nexus gaming console that taps into Android's extensive library of gaming titles ahead of Apple's foray would be an effective pre-emptive strike.