GameStop's digital delivery service, which is currently in beta, may send OnLive downstream.
In May, GameStop purchased Spawn Labs, a streaming technology company, with the intent of offering high-definition videogames directly to "any internet-enabled device." The retail giant recently announced that the service is already in beta, with several testers currently streaming full games.
"Spawn recently began its first beta and is currently live, testing the streaming of Xbox 360, PS3 and PC games from a data center in Austin, Texas," said Tony Bartel, president of GameStop.
The cloud-enabled service is said to be capable of format crossovers, including streaming World of Warcraft to an iPad or full PC games to Facebook. Though currently in closed beta, there are plans for it to open up by the end of 2011. Early next year, GameStop is expected to drop details regarding dedicated hardware, pricing models, and a launch date.
OnLive currently offers 3-and 5-day rentals, most for fewer than eight dollars, as well as a $10/month bundle that includes unlimited access to several games. Though not an exact indicator, it's not unreasonable to expect GameStop's prices to be comparable to these, assuming they even allow for a rental option.
In addition to PC streaming, GameStop says it's working with publishers to stream games to smart devices (phones, tablets) as well as to dedicated hardware through a Spawn software client. Regarding a "GameStop box" similar to OnLive's microconsole, Bartel had this to say:
"Those conversations are taking place today," Bartel said. "There's a whole cadre of services that GameStop can offer far beyond just Spawn. The beauty of Spawn is it can take a very large assortment of games. There's really no restriction versus an Xbox 360 and PlayStation game."
"We're also experimenting with PC game delivery as well, but we can take that to any Internet-connected device including TV. So clearly, it's part of our acquisition forethought. We anticipated being involved in smart TVs as well."
Way to sidestep that topic, sir.
OnLive obviously has a head start on this section of the market, and if its talks with Sony, Microsoft, and Valve bear fruit, that lead may grow even more. Can GameStop, with its unrivaled retail power, hope to muscle its way past the competition?