Once a staple of soul-crushing malls everywhere, GameStop has announced that it will begin selling tablet computers later this year to compliment its recent digital distribution acqusitions. The news comes as things look bullish for the game retailer; their purchase of game-streaming service Spawn labs and digital storefront Impulse have not only raised the company’s stock but hinted at a new business model for the company.
Tony Bartel, the president of GameStop, cites the “hybrid market” where people purchase games for their different devices from different locations — both physical and digital. Bartel, it seems, is angling to make GameStop one location to sell to all your devices. And what’s more, they want a piece of the lucrative app-store style market, which has made overnight sensations out of iPhone and iPad developers.
What is a little bit puzzling is how Bartel described the device. From MSNBC:
If we can work with our partners and the OEMs and they come up with a great table that is enabled with a great gaming experience and coupled with a bluetooth controller, then there’s no need to go out and develop our own […] But if we can’t find one that’s great for gaming, then we will create our own.
Presumably, the Bluetooth controller will allow users to try a variety of different games over the Spawn Labs system before they purchase, though its exact role is unclear. The tablet may also act as a gateway to the app-market, perhaps luring in gamers who wouldn’t otherwise have purchased a tablet device.
Though a surprising announcment, the GameStop tablet does cement the comittment of the company toward a strong, diverse digital marketplace. They have already comitted to providing a Steam-like online store that will give gamers access to their purchases, and have also said that they will not expand their floorspace in the coming year. But how GameStop plans to overcome Valve’s juggernaut game marketplace Steam, or Apple’s domination of the tablet market is yet to be seen.
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