The GamePop Mini, a new subscription-based Android console from BlueStacks, is coming to market with an interesting business model: It's "free" after purchasing a 12-month subscription at $7 per month. In total, the GamePop Mini comes to $84 – less than the Ouya and a tad more than the GameStick – and has secured 500 "popular mobile game partners."
Even though it is powered by Android, an interesting piece of proprietary software called Looking Glass allows iOS apps to run on the console. "[Porting is] not easy, but I would submit it's not hard, relatively speaking," BlueStacks' Head of Marketing and Business Development John Garguilo told Engadget. "If you're a developer and you've built your app and put it on iOS, it's your app. You built it, you own the bits and you own all the intellectual property. If you apply Looking Glass' layer, you can put [your app] on a TV with us."
The GamePop Mini has a tentative launch window of "this winter." Subscription is required to access GamePop Mini services and if you cancel your subscription before the end of the first year, there is a $25 restocking fee.
First ever free hardware with subscription; GamePop service to be available across multiple form factors
Palo Alto, CA June 28, 2013 – Mobile company BlueStacks has announced a second vehicle to deliver its new GamePop mobile gaming service, the GamePop Mini. Like the recently announced $129 GamePop, the new device will also run Jelly Bean 4.2, connect to TV via a supplied HDMI cable and include a curated group of 500 popular mobile game partners. Announced partners include HalfBrick (Fruit Ninja, Jetpack Joyride), Glu (Blood Brothers), #1 Kids app developer Intellijoy and more. BlueStacks says the 6.99/month subscription will include access to over $200 in paid games for free.
"We have always planned on having a free console option," said BlueStacks CEO, Rosen Sharma. "The biggest value of the GamePop service is its content – not the box. Hardware costs have come down so fast that we're able to undercut the rest of the market. With the free promotion we've been doing in June we're already seeing a ton of adoption. That volume then attracts more developers and therefore more and better content. It's building momentum."
In addition to announcing a lineup of several popular Google Top Developers, BlueStacks also came out with its "Looking Glass" technology earlier this month. Looking Glass will allow iOS-only developers to easily launch on GamePop. Titles such as iOS's first major franchise the Fieldrunners series will be able to come to TVs this way.
"We want to make things as easy as possible for app developers to come on board," said Ben Armstrong of the company's developer relations team. "There is a virtuous circle between great content and volume that we're having a lot of early success jumpstarting that so far. The launch titles a service comes with are critical." Pre-orders went on sale May 9 for GamePop at Gamepop.tv and while not releasing specific numbers, the company reports they are stronger than expected. The free promotion for the GamePop console will end June 30, when it will go back to its regular price of $129. The GamePop Mini will be available for pre-order July 1. It is slated to ship this winter.