There may soon be a day when GameStop beams its wares directly to your dashboard. A day in mid-2012, to be precise. This week, the brick and mortar video game retailer announced that it has started beta testing its own PS3 and Xbox 360 game streaming service, with plans invite US gamers to the pre-party later this year.
GameStop's entry into the video game streaming market follows its acquition of the Texas based streaming technology firm Spawn Labs back in April. In 2009, Spawn Labs earned some geek press after introducing the HD-720, a set-top device which allowed gamers to play PS3 or Xbox 360 games through a web-enabled PC. The device ran on Spawn Labs' proprietary streaming software client, and it is this technology which GameStop has been tinkering with to stream games to smart phones, PCs and now consoles.
"Spawn recently began its first beta and is currently live, testing the streaming of Xbox 360, PS3 and PC games from a data centre in Austin, Texas," said GameStop president Tony Bartel in this week's statement, noting, "We continue to get positive feedback from our publishing partners about the pro-console, low-investment model that we have chosen."
The Spawn client will be made available to GameStop's 12 million plus PowerUP program members, and Eurogamer has confirmed with an overseas GameStop rep that the service “is in the plans” to launch in the UK after it debuts in the US next year.
By the time GameStop rolls out its game streaming service, the company will be forced to contend with some fairly well-established competitors. OnLive, launched in June 2010, is already available on virtually every smart device and home computer with sights on PS3 and Xbox 360, and is slated to launch in the UK this September. Just this week at GDC Europer, OnLive publisher and developer relations head Chris Donahue told MCV the company was actively pursuing exclusive deals with big name publishers and developers, and was even flirting with the idea of opening its own development office, hinting: “It’s possible we’d set up an internal studio, there’s a lot of people at OnLive who have worked on that side of the business. I can’t say we’ll definitely have a first party, but there’s every possibility that we’ll have third-party exclusives.”
Meanwhile, GameStop's other potential competitor Gaikai announced earlier this month it was close to striking deals with most of the major publishers, and its extremely high performance Server 2 (think Crysis 2 on demand) is in closed beta testing. Coupled with EA's recent release of Origin, Valve's continuing evolution of Steam and the imminent arrival of entertainment streaming service OTOY, the cloud is certainly getting crowded. But then, a little competition never hurt, no?
More details regarding GameStop's console streaming service, and the open beta, are expected to arrive soon.
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