GameStop acquires Impulse, Spawn Labs

Specialty retailer adds PC digital distribution and game streaming companies to corporate family, promises wide selection of on-demand games for "any Internet-enabled device."

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GameStop doesn't care how you get your games; it just wants to be the company that gets them to you. The publisher bolstered that position today, as it announced the acquisition of two digital distribution companies: Stardock subsidiary Impulse, Inc. and Spawn Labs.

There's nothing impulsive about GameStop's digital distribution investment.

The Impulse acquisition, which isn't expected to close until May, should see the downloadable game storefront integrated with GameStop's existing site. The specialty retailer already offers downloadable games on its retail site, but it does note those orders are fulfilled by a third party. Impulse will continue to exist, but it will also be fully integrated on GameStop's retail site "within the next few months."

As for Spawn Labs, the streaming game specialist will be put to work with GameStop's research and development group, working on a new consumer interface that will offer "immediate access to a wide selection of high-definition video games on demand on any Internet-enabled device." Terms of the acquisitions were not revealed.

The moves are a continuation of GameStop's strategy to establish a digital presence through acquisition. In 2009, the retailer acquired majority ownership of free-to-play gaming site Jolt Online and followed that up last year with the purchase of Flash-based game portal Kongregate.

Discussion

109 comments
Allan_X
Allan_X

Oh no. Oh god no. Please. Please, god no.

shadowhunter0
shadowhunter0

@the people that thinks this is an April fools joke look at the date it was posted which was March 31 so it isn't a April fools joke but I did wish it was

hange
hange

@shadowysea07 While I agree that their current business practices are making them a lot of money, the company is smart to know that they must evolve along with the industry. The blockbuster comment related to BB not following the industry trend of digital distribution, which allowed Netflix to bankrupt them in the US. As for "hard copies and renting will always do better than digital games", that is your opinion. It probably will not always be this way. I much prefer the physical copy of a game but I am sure at some point this will change. Take music as an example. 10 years ago everybody had their music on compact discs and the "nobody" would buy a digital album. Now the majority of consumers download their music and store it all on mp3 players. It is convenient to have your whole music collection at your fingertips. Pretty soon people will be content to have their whole game collection at their fingertips without having to switch discs. It'll happen. There will be people who will "need" the physical media, just like there are people that still "need" the CD. The downside, of course, is you can't share games with friends or trade/sell them when you're done.

Alkpaz
Alkpaz

The question is will my DDs I bought from Gamestop be integrated into my Impulse account?

Briantb_2008
Briantb_2008

Kinda surpised Gamestop is doing anything with pc games. The stores I go to tend to have old to no pc games. I dont even see the popular new release a few weeks after they come out. I havent seen any copies of Starcraft 2 at a Gamestop or EB games.

CaptainHerlock
CaptainHerlock

@nparks Yes, digital "copies" make game companies money, because at the moment the biggest digital store front, Steam, is unchallenged in the field. If you take a look at some of the prices on Steam they are actually HIGHER in some cases than the boxed versions of the very same game. Don't believe me? Take a look at what Race 07 goes for on Steam, and then look it up on Amazon.com. The product has been downsized, and the profits have been upsized. This is because there's no competition, and Steam is a "forced install" with many games. Once there's a major competitor that will begin to change. As for the bandwidth issue, I don't see that changing any time soon. At least not very quickly. I live in an urban area and currently my only two choices are AT&T DSL and Comcast. Pick your poison. AT&T refuses to bring U-Verse to my area, and Comcast charges an arm and a leg for cable internet. You'd think in a town that's home to an Ivy League university (Yale) that the data network wouldn't be as pathetically out dated as it is. Yet sadly there's not been much improvement.

shadowysea07
shadowysea07

ugh i don't want to even imagine how long ff15 would take to download if it was dlc only not to mention how much space it would take considering 13 was huge

shadowysea07
shadowysea07

@nparks and last but not least dlc doesn't make more money than hard copies normally. there certainly are high selling dlc games but i haven't heard of one off hand that out sold hard copies of the average fps ff pokemon mario zelda ect

shadowysea07
shadowysea07

@nparks lol cheaper or priced the same? yeaaah riiiight. on average most recent games (games within the current and last gen console range) and i'm talking about real games not the tiny arcade games you pay 1-5 bucks for usually cost alot more than what you'd be able to find them used for. withonline only not only do you lose out price wise since theres only one store so they can price games whatever they want but that eliminates bundles as well. also just to give an example even though its a bad one look at the pspgo and how it failed. and lol at you never really own it smacks you on the head with ff13s hard copy. you can do whatever you want within legal options on hard copies. you can't sell or return dlc so once you buy them you are screwed. in the case of dlc you have data and thats it. data can be lost you can have your account banned/suspended/stopped paying for and you still need internet to play games. it may be different if your only thinking of pc games but you have to consider console as well. sure pc games have healthy competition since dlc only would mean for them tons of online stores to download the games from but consoles don't have such a thing. as for left 4 dead the example i was giving was that stuff thats in the pc version thats free is charged for in the console version.

Zloth2
Zloth2

Nice posts @nparks! And now we've got Google putting some fiber down starting next year that will handle 1Gbps. Even if it turns out to be a quarter of that speed, the download time is liable to be faster than the time it takes to install the program. I think @shadowysea07 is talking consoles though, not PCs, hence the hard drive statement.

syafiqjabar
syafiqjabar

@Frame_Dragger No. I mean that Stardock exclusively sells the digital download version of their games through Impulse. They actually have something Steam or other DD sites don't, which are also AAA quality titles. So there is an advantage to using Impulse.

Wormkid_64
Wormkid_64

@ HonoredShadow /:-| Well whatever. I don't pay so much attention to all these companies buying each other and owning stuff.All I know is I got SoaSE through Impulse,and it had something to do with Stardock.I don't care if Barney buys Stardock or Impulse or whatever,I just want SoaSE Rebellion.

nparks
nparks

5. Never own? Do people not own any of their itunes tracks? Any downloaded PC software? Any kindle books? You ever read the license agreements that accompany boxed games and software? If you did, you know that you don't actually own those either. You buy a license to personally use the content either way. That's it. 6. The ecosystem will stablize around what people are willing to pay. When sales of an older game drop off, the prices will drop as well. Don't worry. There will be sales. 7. Downloadable games can be played offline in most cases today. Why would that change? And even if it did, you already have an internet connection, don't you? The only real obstacle is the internet providers who would like to limit access or charge extra for access to these kinds of services. The solutions to this are competition and net neutrality. Music and books are increasingly virtual goods. Video is in the early part of the transition. There's no reason why games wouldn't be next in line. GameStop knows that, which is why they are planning for it. Either that or they'll end up just like Tower Records. Or Borders. Or Suncoast Video. Or...

nparks
nparks

@shadowysea07 1. On a 24 Mbps connection, you could download a 10+ gig game in an hour. 24 Mb connections and faster exist today at affordable rates, but are not widespread. So, I agree that the U.S.'s trailing position in broadband rollout is an issue, but it is more political than technical. A certain segment of our government leadership is dedicated to stopping any public spending on infrastructure investment and simultaneously preventing co-ops or local governments from providing any sort of competition to big telecom companies. That can be overcome. 2. Explain how digital copies don't make the creators any money? Also explain why development studios wouldn't rewrite their publishing contracts to make sure they still get paid? They aren't going to just start working for free. Again, there's no technical barrier there. And how would this apply to Left 4 Dead? Valve is both the developer and the publisher (plus the retailer if you buy it through Steam). And its not like EA and Activison don't do everything in their power to screw developers of games that end up being sold on disks. 3. Hard drives are cheap. 3 terabyte drives retail for under $200. And they only get cheaper with time. Plus, cloud storage can always supplement local storage and provide protection against hardware failures. 4. How does digital distribution "cost and arm and a leg" compared to physical games? It is my impression that digital is usually cheaper or priced the same.

CaptainHerlock
CaptainHerlock

Lonewolf is right. Currently there's far too much downside. A lot of you may not like this deal, but there is an upside to this. The deal will challenge Valve and Steam's stranglehold on the download market. More competition means better prices and better service for consumers.

lonewolf1044
lonewolf1044

Digital DL may be the future but it can also be our undoing. If one has to rely on a company server to play and you have no hard copy, you may lose the games that you DL if that company goes under. Also, if the servers or the internet is down you lose the ability to play. There is one good thing about Direct Drive though you download the client software and have to only activate the game when you install even though if they go out of business you cannot activate a game unless they patch the games before going out of business and allow you access to the games. But even that is not guaranteed. I prefer hard copies of my games.

parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

This occurred April 1st. It is not a joke. Not unless both Stardock and Gamestop are impossibly committed to a really lame joke.

jockie_chan
jockie_chan

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

mude
mude

Another april fool's day report, damn there have been alot on this site today.

TheDreamSeeker
TheDreamSeeker

Aprils fools joke... are you lot mad. If it really was a Aprils fool joke, then I'd really hope the Gamespot writers get a large dose of creativity for next years joke... On that note. Type the story into Google and see how many websites are covering this topic.

kyle756
kyle756

it was posted march 31 though, I hope its an april fool's joke, the last thing I want to do is go through gamestop for digital distribution when I barely go there for solid as it is

Tony-Baxter
Tony-Baxter

this amounts to an april fools joke.

Nodashi
Nodashi

Who cares, Steam owns this business model. edit: @AceCometh Try telling Valve it's a niche market. " Forbes has stated, however, that Steam sales contribute 50 to 70% of the $4 billion market for downloaded PC games, and that Steam offers gross margins of 70%, compared with 30% at retail.[39]" 4 BILLIONS is niche? OK then.

Pangamaster
Pangamaster

Ha....i almost forgot what day it is today

Fernin-Ker
Fernin-Ker

@AceCometh I don't know about it being niche, all my PC games for the past few years have been bought through steam, some, 70 games or so. Last PC game I bought on disk was... Sins of a Solar empire and before that, Half Life 2. oO

AceCometh
AceCometh

GameStop has already entered the digital download market before this acquisition. It will never take the place of games on disk, or whatever medium they are placed on, but it's still a very profitable niche market. It will be a good pick up, I think. If not, it could come back to bite GameStop in the arse.

shadowysea07
shadowysea07

@hange considering their current business practices just made them a huge wad of cash i don't see that happening. while yes it is smart to have other ways to sell games to gamers hard copies and renting will always do better than digital games.

shadowysea07
shadowysea07

@nparks digital distribution will never be the future for full games. i can see them doing what they are already doing and releasing crappy halfarse games and then releasing the rest of it via dlc but full games being digital only isn't going to happen for many reasons. one unless internet jumps to 100g in the near future current internet connections would never allow for this plus believe it or not digital copies only make the company selling them money not the creators. and due to legal issues and whatnot alot of games get screwed this way when they have online content like say left for dead. another issue is harddrive space. unless you go out and buy a 160gb the average 20 isn't going to cut it. the worst of it all is that digital distribution costs the user an arm and a leg for a game they never own. internet fee then the game which will cost you full price and rarely if ever be on sale and then maybe a membership fee. then on top of that you need internet to play the games so no internet and bam you can't play these games. and considering internet companies allow a certain limit for yeah you'd only be able to download a couple games a month.

hange
hange

@nparks Nicely put, nobody wants to be the next Blockbuster.... ********************************************************************* GameStop is looking ahead. They can see that digital distribution is the future, and if they don't get on board now, then their current retail and resale model will be utterly obsolete in a few years.

fadersdream
fadersdream

I bet digital distribution companies are about to do a 180 on their anti-resell market opinions. Now that gamestop (who I don't like, but will defend their right to exist) has come up with a strong way to adapt to the future gaming industry.

blackace
blackace

@Guiltyspartan11 looks like MS was right when they Said Digital downloads are the future of video games. All though i still prefer a physical copy. ******************************************************* I still prefer the physical copy as well, because I can sell them. I do not mind the smaller digital copies of games like Super Meat Boy, Trial HD, Puzzle Quest & Torchlight. Those games aren't costing me $50 - $60 and even if I had the physical copies, I wouldn't get much for them if I sold them. Still, I'm not going to download digital copies of Gears 3, Mass Effect 2, Resistance 3 or Uncharted 3. It's just not going to happen. Gamestop's digital download games is a good idea for them to make some extra cash. Most of these games are $20 or less. They are high quality in graphics and performance where it's going to bog your PC down. I've tried some of their demos and it was hit or miss. Some were decent, while other games were just unplayable.

it009x9281
it009x9281

I use impluse and i hope i still get access to the indie dev games.

swamptick
swamptick

All I'm saying is, I want the hard copy.

Guiltyspartan11
Guiltyspartan11

looks like MS was right when they Said Digital downloads are the future of video games. All though i still prefer a physical copy.

jollybest1
jollybest1

@syafiqjabar a very good point, to be mentioned that the cost of transportation, dvd writing ,plenty of aditional hour of work (that needs payment) and of course you get the copy on time are the benefits of going digital ea saw this and blizzard i think was the first to do it, after blizzard came steam (it may have been many more but this are the big players on the digital market), so it is a good move made by gamestop but now they need to bring something good (and as i've heard impulse was good enough ), because steam has the big part of the pie and look at windows live no one likes it and they are trying to get back in , if they do it wrong they can receive the same welcome as windows live had and has...although i buy the retail version of the games i allways look for steam because after installing you don't need the dvd anymore, even if you uninstall it and than install it you need only the steam client, so the dvd can stay in your collection and you just used it once :))

nparks
nparks

GameStop is looking ahead. They can see that digital distribution is the future, and if they don't get on board now, then their current retail and resale model will be utterly obsolete in a few years.

syafiqjabar
syafiqjabar

@Frame_Dragger You know Impulse have exclusive games like Galactic Civilisations 2 and Sins of A Solar Empire? Plus some Windows utilities like Fences? The client is pretty good, you don't even have to start the client to play the games. @swamptick That may not be easy. The developer of King's Bounty was told no store stocks his game, but then he showed that in the time it took the distributor to tell him that, he sold 45 copies on Steam. Not to mention that the developers and publishers got a higher percentage of the profits through Steam, Impulse and the others. A game sold for $3 actually made more money than when it was sold for $30, and even when the price returns to $30 the sales continue to increase. They should just do it like Stardock, EA and Steamwork games. You buy a disc, but you can then download the game too if you want.

lowkey254
lowkey254

Thinking about the future is always good. In the scheme of things this is a good aquisition.

swamptick
swamptick

I hope digital distribution remains niche. I want the hard copy. Every time.

HonoredShadow
HonoredShadow

@SolidSnakeUS42 & @Wormkid_64. Why don't you read? Stardock subsidiary Impulse, Inc NOT STARDOCK

Wormkid_64
Wormkid_64

Wow,Stardock? Hope this whole thing affects Sins of a Solar Empire for the better.I'm looking forward to the expansion,Rebellion.

jollybest1
jollybest1

@alexdc22 at some point i agree because if EA or other companies continues to delay their releases in my country or in this part of Europe and the retailers will charge double the price for the games i will go to my bad habit and stop buying EA games or any company that has no respect for their clients and copy them or buy them from steam when they are cheap .....

falconclan
falconclan

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]