The latest product from BlueStacks, the GamePop Android-powered gaming console, will retail for $129 once it exists its free pre-order offer, which is ongoing and will continue through the end of June, the company announced today. And it will launch with a solid line-up of paid gaming titles for the all-you-can-eat subscription fee of $6.99 per month, thanks to newly announced partnerships with COM2US, Korea’s largest game developer, which will have its own dedicated channel in the GamePop menu.
Other newly announced partners included Intellijoy, and education developers that boasts three of the top 10 spots in the education app category of Google Play, which will be adding around $30 worth of software to the subscription package on offer from GamePop. At launch, GamePop plans to have 500 top paid gaming titles available to subscribers, with revenue split 50/50 between itself and those game developers chosen to be included in the roster.
GamePop also shared sparse details about its controller system, which will feature dedicated hardware as well as other mobile devices. I spoke with BlueStacks’ John Gargiulo about the new GamePop announcements, and about the controller in particular.
“It is not what people will expect, it’s much better, we will ensure that the experience is high quality game-by-game,” he said. GamePop will also support using Android or iPhone devices as controllers, via a virtual gamepad interface, and also using “new control paradigms that have recently been made possible,” he teased, though he couldn’t go into more detail about what exactly we’d be seeing in terms of unique control schemes. Most likely gesture-based controls that leverage the accelerometer in those devices will be in play, perhaps providing a Wii-style gaming experience. These will also be tailored to titles game-by-game.
Overall, the game-by-game approach is a key competitive advantage for GamePop, Gargiulo argues. Whereas others like OUYA have put the impetus on developers to bring their software to their platform and tweak it to make sure it fits, GamePop is doing the opposite, and making sure that developers can bring their software untouched to its device. That means devoting more resources from its own team to ensuring the experience is a good one on the console, but it’s a necessary step when you’re asking developers to embrace a new business model, and it’s something that will ultimately help lower the barrier of entry and ensure that Bluestacks can offer as strong a library as possible.
That library needs to include games that people already know and love, Gargiulo believes, and delivering that will be the difference between success or failure in this space according to him.
“What’s really helping us win developers is the fact that we’re using our resources, our funding, our engineering to build all of the IP around their apps and games working on GamePop,” he said. “Whereas, the old school console model, and what others are doing in this space, is asking quite a lot of developers. Developers don’t have a lot of bandwidth, and people are asking them to integrate SDKs, special controls, build special menus and that’s not something we’re asking for.”
Instead, developers are helping cross-promote the console through in-app advertising and other channels, which requires relatively no effort, and, depending on subscriber base, they stand to make a lot more money than they can by offering their titles on a pay-per-install basis. Gargiulo also says that in-app purchase mechanics will remain untouched, and that all proceeds from those sales will go direct to developers (minus the standard Google Play store cut), without BlueStacks taking any cut of the action.
The GamePop is still on track for a Winter 2013 release, the company says, and it arrived at the $129 pricing based on a desire to make sure that it has powerful enough hardware to support the most demanding mobile games, and provide some degree of future-proofing. Its 500-game selection may be subject to future expansion, since they company has seen tremendous developer interest, but will also feature a rotating crop of titles, with under performing games being dropped to ensure players always have access to the top titles.