GameStop details game-streaming service

Spawn Labs purchase will let retailer distribute new-game demos, purchased titles through any Internet-connected device; beta begins this year.

GameStop closed out March with two high-profile acquisitions designed to keep it competitive in an increasingly digital landscape. First, Stardock subsidiary Impulse is joining the GameStop corporate family and will see its digital distribution storefront integrated into the retailer's own online presence. Meanwhile, the specialty retailer signaled its intent to enter the on-demand game-streaming race with its purchase of Spawn Labs.

GameStop wants to stream demos onto tablets, PCs, and other Internet-enabled devices.

In a conference call today, GameStop further expounded on its plans for Spawn Labs, saying that it will offer demos and full-game streams on Internet-connected devices.

"Spawn Labs provides a very publisher friendly and consumer-friendly way to come to market in a way that is monetizable both to us and our publishing partners by providing a try-before-you-buy plan as well as a subscription service for PowerUp reward members that allows them to stream their GameStop-purchased games," said GameStop president Tony Bartel.

The try-before-you-buy model, according to Bartel, will let gamers play approximately 15 minutes of a game before giving them an option to make a purchase. "Let's say you're at work, you have a lunch hour, you pull out a Bluetooth-connected controller and you have a highly immersive experience playing one of the latest games that have come out. Given the fact that there's no need for porting, we can literally have first released games and thousands of games that can be available to our consumers," he said.

"The other way we look at it that we're very excited about is a subscription service that we would offer to our PowerUp Rewards members where based on the games they purchased from GameStop and have in their library, we would offer them a subscription service to stream those games and play them on any Internet connected device," he continued. "We've already demoed that we can do this on PCs. We also have on our road map to stream to tablets in the not too distant future."

Bartel said that they plan to offer two private betas of the service to selected PowerUp Rewards members in 2011. The company plans to follow this up with a more broadly available service in 2012.

In a note to investors today, Lazard Capital Markets analyst Colin Sebastian believes that GameStop's most recent purchases will lead to a substantial expansion of the retailer's digital market space. Factoring in fellow digital-facing purchases Kongregate and Jolt Online, Sebastian said that he expects GameStop to hold a 4 percent share of the digital games business by 2014, bringing in $1.5 billion in the process.

"Essentially, GameStop is in the process of redefining itself as a distributor of both online and disc-based games, a loose analog to Netflix, but with a much more challenging technology hurdle in the form of interactive entertainment," Sebastian wrote. "GameStop is creating a new platform for online games, leveraging the company's retail stores, core gamer customer base, recent acquisitions, and websites."

GameStop is also very keen on its PowerUp Rewards program, which it introduced in 2010. The program has 8 million members, 5 million of which pay $15 per year for the Pro service. Since its inception eight months ago, members spend roughly $65 more per person than non-members, and they also shop at GameStop twice as often.

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43 comments
digi-demon
digi-demon

@SicklySunStorm Yep - but they are ridiculously expensive IMO - thanks all the same :lol::

SicklySunStorm
SicklySunStorm

@digi-demon - Sky offer a truly unlimited broadband in the UK, with no fair usage policy. BT also offer an unlimited service, albeit more expensive with a fair usage policy included, but I use BT and have for nearly 5 years and have NEVER breached this policy, and I download and game very heavily. There's plenty more if you really look around....

digi-demon
digi-demon

@Ice-Cube 70gb - that would be freaking mega here un UK! - in the UK a 10gb max usage limit per month is common place... :(

digi-demon
digi-demon

I'm with giantqtipz on this one - DL prices are a total rip-off. I prefer physical media over digital 100% :D

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

I'm very badly dissappointed about Impulse doing these kind of deal with GameStop :evil: @Ronnie_Rim I'm very agree with you about GameStop limited "PC Games" section on their retail store(s), now they do want Valve bread crumps,, PC already in health state these recent years.... I just do NOT want PC Gaming ruined by those greedy opportunist. :(

Synlore59
Synlore59

Not having much faith in this coming from Gamestop. (unless they want to give me a decent value for my trade ins!)

Ronnie_Rim
Ronnie_Rim

There's no way I'd wanna try this. Steam was sticking with us PC players long after Gamestop limited the "PC Games" section to one little shelf in the middle of the store. I'm sorry Gamestop, but I'm sticking with Valve on this one. You've let us down before. Its our turn to return the favour.

Lone_Recon
Lone_Recon

John Conner and South Park were right. The machines...THEY'RE TAKIN' OUR JOBS!

SicklySunStorm
SicklySunStorm

@Jurassic85 - I imagine it will work something like Steam, where you have an activation code for a physical disc that is unique to the disc, so if you sell it on, you have to relinquish your access to using the title on your Steam account so that the person buying it can then use it on theirs....

gohoanq
gohoanq

@giantqtipz I agree completely, why the hell should I pay 30 dollars(PLUS TAX APPARENTLY) for a game I can get at gamestop for like $15? It's stupid lol Unless you're freakisly lazy and just cannot stand the thought of leaving the house for a game.. then it's not too smart to waste that much money on a game you could own a physical CHEAPER copy of.

giantqtipz
giantqtipz

i dont mind changing to digital games. but its a problem when the physical version of a game is cheaper than the digital. like the PSP games on the PSN. i can get most of the games in there cheaper via amazon or other retailers. why pay $30 for a game that i can get for $10 that includes a case and manual? just my 2 cents

franxrom1
franxrom1

Shame on everybody who destroy the "disc game"world.In the future we will pay money to the publishers just to imagine ourself the games.Somebody please stop this and let us recive something for our money...

Jurassic85
Jurassic85

So Gamestop will allow us to play games that we own physically/have in our library, streaming over the internet as well? Do they not think that this will cause people to buy a game, sell it to a friend, and then just continue to play the streaming version provided by Gamestop? Someone clue me in if I am misunderstanding this concept.

Double_Wide
Double_Wide

Sounds like the beginning of the end for tangible game periphials. Within 10 years expect there to be no GameStop stores and for it just to be a website...also meaning less jobs and more gaming only for those who can afford an internet connection. As convienent as downloading media is (Netflix, Rhapsody, PSN etc) nothing beats the experience of going out to a store and purchasing something tangible. It seems like either society or the business realm has lost sight of the social aspect the marketplace.

lonewolf1044
lonewolf1044

most people look at these types of services as a blessing, I see it as both blessing and a curse. It is a blessing that you do not have to leave the house to buy your games. But it is a curse if you have to depend on your internet to work for you to access your games. Only one service that I know allows you to DL the files to run and it does not require the internet except for activation is Direct Drive. I perfer hard copies of what I buy being things may be going good now, but what happens to your games when they bottoms up? I utilize Steam when their games are on sale and those sales are good, however it is not perfect.

zidan4000
zidan4000

@CaptainVictory there is no better smell in the world than the smell of a brand new game when you open up the case.

protokyoto
protokyoto

So umm...Steam but controlled by a company with horrible customer service? Something tells me this would kill my ISP bandwidth limit as well (Ontario). I'll keep my eyes on this but not very hopeful.

Tauu
Tauu

I always mix up Gamespot and Gamestop. How confusing.

Ice-Cube
Ice-Cube

Buying games digitally is hassle free but it puts a strain to customers who are with Rogers ISP, the monthly limits are ridiculous. I used to be on Extreme and was limited to 70GB per month, now i'm on ExtremePlus and thats 125 yet still not enough, their last one is Ultimate 175gb which is priced at $100. I wish there was an ISP with unlimited bandwidth yet great speed in my area (southwestern ontario). Also in regards to buying digitally, I'd still rather have the actual disc in hand and manual. So I don't think this is the service for me. If I can't buy the game in-store, then i'll buy it on Steam.

jedediahpelland
jedediahpelland

@RadicalToenail Yeah me too, the only reason I use Onlive on my PC is to check games out with the 30 minute trial, or watch others playing it. This new service is only offering 15 minute trials? LOL after the opening cinematics you will only end up playing 5 or 10 minutes. I think Gamespot is a little late in the game for this. Why use this when I have Steam, and I can check the game out on Onlive?? Now if only Steam would offer timed trials for new releases, that would be great. Also they mentioned this service would be available to ANY internet connected device, like.... the PS3? 360? WII? I highly doubt that. They mentioned being able to pick up a bluetooth controller and play, again PS3? NOT!!

MichaelChainsaw
MichaelChainsaw

WHy buy through Gamestop? Glad they are pushing the competition that may spur a price war... but it seems more logical to buy direct from the companies in regards to downloadable media..

Alkpaz
Alkpaz

Yet, still no word if Gamestop DD games bought through their main site will be integrated into existing Impulse accounts..

mtait01
mtait01

digital downloads are the future... its just a shame that it will end up cost the gamer tonnes more. here in england we already have a similar service to this but its only for ps3... i think you can download game rentals on it anyway

acasero44
acasero44

Want to sell or buy used games? Craiglist nuff said Gamestop sucks and they rip off you pretty badly. I sold MW2 for 45 dollars to a teen who came to pick it up. Gamestop 28 store credit lmao. Make profit? More like be greedy and go to hell.

wiouds
wiouds

I not into "long" renting a game for the price of buying a game.

Toysoldier34
Toysoldier34

@AirPortugall I've used OnLive a bit and streaming games is no problem. The only reason games like COD lag is because the servers they use are crappy. Whether the game will be laggy depends on how much work is put in to make sure it runs smooth. COD has proven that they will release a game, collect your money, then get around to fixing it and making it halfway playable.

Toysoldier34
Toysoldier34

Gamestop has always given PC games the boot and no support. I will stick with Steam.

CaptainVictory
CaptainVictory

Pretty neat service if you're into this sort of thing. For me there is just a special feeling I get from buying the actual disc and staring at it the whole way from the store. Hopefully not crashing in the process!

James00715
James00715

I know a lot of people hate it, but I like the idea of more competition in digital games. The only problem is how locked down the services are. i.e. Some games you can only get on one service, and games you buy on a service can't be transferred to another one. We've already been dealing with this for years with consoles, though. The various digital game services will essentially become new "platforms".

RadicalToenail
RadicalToenail

@Animatronic64 Totally agree. I use OnLive, but I don't buy anything ever. I just play the trial of a game so I can see how fun it might be. If I like it, I buy it on Steam.

TwisterTheory
TwisterTheory

Honestly, all this just makes me miss the days of the SNES, Genesis, and PS1. Going into Toys R Us and being in awe of all the cool looking games I saw. Aaaah how I miss the golden age of gaming. So glad I still have all my old games and systems :)

Animatronic64
Animatronic64

I would never buy a game through this type of service, but I'm not going to complain when it comes to a demo.

Marky360
Marky360

well sounds like all is good in the land of gamestop. there really lining there selves up to be the best retailer of video games and I can't wait to try out there game streaming service I just hope this doesn't detract from the number of demo's we see on the Playstation store and Xboxlive marketplace since there will already be demo's of games directly at the retailer's site.

AirPortugall
AirPortugall

I want to see how well COD or any other online video game works when you stream the actual game over the internet.... People complain about lag already in games (especially COD) this'll be reeeall fun to see how much it lags when you're streaming COD itself and connecting to a match... If it does work though - saweet!

kungharry
kungharry

I hope GameStop try this in Europe, where connection speeds are generally higher. I have used OnLive for trying out some demos, but the quality is still not nearly as good as playing from my hard drive. It may be their servers, but I think my connection is to blame. Also, the games often feel like cheap ports since there is no way to change the controls or graphic options in (most or all?) games. I understand the need to economically manage running the games, but settings gamma or customizable controls shouldn't be too hard to include.

Igetyourdogtag
Igetyourdogtag

How do you play a full priced video game on a tablet...? Also, this is a complete copy of onlive.

calm_syrface
calm_syrface

this is too good! anybody that buy games from Gamestop will have to at some point try out this service. Netflix is great and all we needed was a video game version of that. I know this is going to work plus many other companies will have to follow. Who doesn't like demos?

thermalcold
thermalcold

Its amazing that companies are falling head over heals over this, without a proven concept yet. And, not surprising, with comments like "to come to market in a way that is monetizable both to us and our publishing partners", who are they thinking of? Gamers?....hello?...(chirp chirp chirp) And I'm a gamer, not a "consumer."

Cwagmire21
Cwagmire21

Get ready for complaints about the speed because people have yet to upgrade from basic DSL. :)

swamptick
swamptick

Not interested. I want the hard copy. I also like to support local, independent dealers.