BlueStacks, a startup mostly known for its Google Android emulation software for Microsoft Corp.’s Windows-based PCs, recently announced a new gaming console and subscription service called GamePop. The system includes a custom console and gaming controller that can run games originally developed for Apple iOS and Google Android operating systems, thus bringing them into the living room. Bluestacks will offer subscription model for end-users.
“Mobile gaming has been taking off the past few years. BlueStacks' vision is to bring that same experience to bigger screens. The all-you-can-eat pricing model for GamePop lets users enjoy a much broader range of games, just as you can watch more movies with Netflix versus the pay-as-you-go model Blockbuster employed,” said Rosen Sharma, chief executive officer of BlueStacks.
BlueStacks GamePop console will be based on custom, rather powerful hardware, which should allow game console to remain relevant as smartphones and tablets gain power in the next several years. In addition to Google Android-based games, the company will also bring titles developed exclusively for Apple iOS platform to TVs. Such applications will be enabled by a new Mobile-to-TV technology called “Looking Glass”.
“There will always be popular titles that are iOS-only, like Clash of Clans. Looking Glass enables these titles to be brought into the living room. Some of the retina iPad games for example look spectacular on TV,” said Suman Saraf, chief technology officer at BlueStacks.
BlueStacks plans to market GamePop subscriptions directly from GamePop.tv, which went live last month. The console and controller will cost $129, but early adopters will be able to pre-order the system and then pay $6.99 per month, which includes access to hundreds of video games. The console is set to ship this winter.
Developers keep all of the in-app purchases that run through their apps with GamePop - BlueStacks does not take any share. Additionally, 50% of GamePop subscription revenue will be shared back with developers, apportioned by usage.
The success of BlueStacks GamePop depends on multiple factors. First of all, the company has to negotiate terms of the deals with game developers. While smaller companies are likely to enable their titles on TVs, bigger players may not be interest in bringing all of their mobile games to TVs in order to avoid any competition with fully-fledge game consoles and titles they design for them. Furthermore, Apple’s iPad and iPhone already support AirPlay technology that allows owners of Apple TV ($99) to play mobile games on bigger screens.
“Mobile gamers continue to show higher levels of engagement and longer play sessions on larger form factors. BlueStacks and GamePop offer developers like Glu an opportunity to potentially reach a new audience of gamers with great 3D, high-production value content. We see significant potential in BlueStacks’ approach to the console gaming market,” said Niccolo de Masi, chief executive officer of Glu.