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GameStop streaming service to include demos, possibly extra games tailored to players' interests


GameStop acquired Spawn Labs in 2011, planning to use that company's streaming gameplay technology for its own streaming service. GameStop has recently adjusted its plans to include PCs, tablets, and smart TVs only, even after announcing the technology for a larger variety of devices. That decision is motivated, in part, by the upcoming console generation change, CEO J. Paul Raines told me.

"Some things are happening in the gaming business that we're now having to adjust to," Raines said. "One of those is we're moving to a new generation of consoles. So what was our old console based technology now has to change for the new generation of consoles. So that's giving us some challenges on the technology side."

Raines added that Gamestop's research has shown interest in streaming to tablets and TVs. "Putting those two things together, we made a decision to move our technology to a PC-based platform, that will allow us to more efficiently stream to web-enabled devices, PCs, and smart TVs and tablets, and it allows us not to have to wait for the next gen of consoles or be disrupted by the rollout of next-gen consoles, which appears to be coming, you know, pretty imminently." These changes have prompted the company to move the launch of the service to a later date than it would have wanted; currently, that date is June 2013.

Raines is still vague on the exact nature of the service, from a consumer perspective. It will include a "try before you buy" element, that much is clear. The service "would let you see the game and test it, and of course Gaikai's done some of that," Raines noted. "Nobody's done it as big as we're going to do it. But the idea is that you test pieces of the game, and then you can pre-order it from or you can go to a store with a voucher and buy it, or take trade credit, etc."

The other element is a bit more tentatively defined. "The other service is leveraging what's in your game library as a PowerUp Rewards member," he said. "So the idea is, if you're a PowerUp Rewards member with GameStop, we know what games you like to play. Whatever it is you like, we offer you streaming services around those games."

Those services include related "companion" games, with Raines offering the hypothetical example of offering the tablet-based FPS Dead Trigger to members who enjoy shooting games. It could also include streaming versions of games you own. "If you like sports, wouldn't it be fun to play some Madden when you're on the road, if you own the game," he suggested. "We're working with EA to see what content we can put on the service."

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