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BlueStacks is Making an Android Console Too

By - Source: Wired | B 5 comments

Last week, BlueStacks said that it has surpassed 10 million users, 4.3 million of which came online in Q1 2013 alone. The company launched its App Player on Windows PC back in March 2012, and then added a Mac version in June. The software allows users to run Android apps on a desktop, laptop or Windows 8 tablet. A special version of BlueStacks for the Microsoft Surface was even released in February.

Now the company is looking to gain even more ground in the Android market by launching its own console. But unlike the OUYA, which customers will pay $99 for the device and then additional funds for OUYA-specific games, the upcoming $99 GamePop console will rely on an all-you-can-eat $7/month subscription service instead.

Starting today, potential customers can pre-order the GamePop console. Even more, the gadget will be free to anyone who signs up for a subscription service until the end of May. It connects to an HDTV via an HDMI port, and comes pre-loaded with lots of top paid games that would cost hundreds of dollars on a tablet or smartphone. Wired reports that the company has partnered with top mobile game developers like Halfbrick (Jetpack Joyride, Fruit Ninja), Glu Mobile and Outfit7. A total of 500 titles will be available in the subscription service at the time of launch, with more on the way.

“Mobile gaming has been taking off the past few years. BlueStacks’ vision is to bring that same experience to bigger screens,” BlueStacks CEO Rosen Sharma said in a statement. "The all-you-can-eat pricing model for GamePop lets users enjoy a much broader range of games, just as you can watch more movies with Netflix versus the pay-as-you-go model Blockbuster employed."

Games can be controlled using the included GamePop controller, or through the iPhone or Android smartphone via an installed app. As for the console's hardware, the company currently isn't revealing the details outside the Android 4.2 "Jelly Bean" OS. It's also unclear what other non-gaming services will be included like Netflix and Hulu Plus.

However, BlueStacks did confirm that in-app purchases will be made through the user's Google account. Developers will be able to keep that money in their pocket, and overall will likely receive around 50 percent of the subscription income, meaning BlueStacks will get half and all developers will share the other half.

News of GamePop arrives after OUYA boss Julia Uhrman said that the upcoming Kickstarter-funded console is now slated for a June 25, 2013 release, pushed back from its original June 4 slot. This is reportedly due to a higher-than-expected demand from gamers and retail partners. It wouldn’t be surprising if the team requested a little more time to tweak the console after some of the negative feedback stemming from coverage based on early units.

It will be interesting to see how both products will win Android gamers over when they officially hit the market. Throw in Nvidia's handheld Project Shield that features an HDMI output, and you have three highly-competitive consoles in a new Android console gaming market. Will customers choose a console with an all-you-can-eat subscription model, a console with a closed Android network, or one that's all Google Play and capable of streaming PC games from a Kepler-based gaming PC?

To pre-order GamePop, head here.

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  • 0 Hide
    darkbooton , May 10, 2013 9:07 AM
    So disconnect my laptop from 42" tv with Bluestacks (free) to pay $99 (for what laptop is doing)and $7 a month? Yea ok
  • 0 Hide
    BringMeAnother , May 10, 2013 9:15 AM
    I'd rather they fix their windows apps and upgrade it to jelly beans first.
  • 0 Hide
    stevejnb , May 10, 2013 9:31 AM
    I actually don't mind this idea, but as it stands, a lot of Android games are made with mobile and touch screen in mind, and very few are meant to take advantage of a big screen and desk/couch environment. Android integrating information into more traditional setups will go a ways to convincing developers to develop for those settings, but right now, playing mobile games in a non-mobile environment will not be an A class gaming experience.
    On the other hand, there are a lot of Android games which are just pain good, mobile oriented or not. A cheap console that plays them will get a few people interested...
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  • 0 Hide
    CaedenV , May 10, 2013 10:11 AM
    I am obviously not the market they are looking for, so take my opinion with a grain of salt, but I really wonder how many people will be in the market for this. I mean, I have a larger phone, and I have played quite a few games from the win8 store on my PC, and they simply do not scale well to higher resolutions or screen sizes. On top of that, what makes mobile games great is that they are mobile, and the few I have played on the desktop with a controller or keys/mice loose a lot in translation from their native touch interface. You are either going to need a multi-touch pad on the controller, or else some sort of kinnect/leapmotion tech to really make games as fun on the TV as they are on the phone/tablet. I have serious dobuts as to how popular these new android consoles will be just from that practical issue of translating touch to a controller, much less the issue of essentially repurchasing games you already bought on the phone.
    That being said, I have 2 kids, one of which who is going to be ready to start playing simple games, and perhaps a device like this or one that is entirely made of vowels would be cheaper and have more appropriate games than forking over the money for a wiiU or something.... but then again I might just dust off the PS2 or Wii and get them started on those instead.
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    stevejnb , May 10, 2013 10:33 AM
    Caeden, one advantage I see consoles like this having over traditional consoles is that, unlike a Playstation or XBOX, software does not need to be made specifically for these consoles continually. MS and Sony have had to put in significant investments developing and promoting and personally programming for their platforms in order to get software on them one way or another and, in doing so, further sales. If they didn't foot a huge initial bill, they would just be boxes with no software. Sony and MS have to make, promote, and further their own ecosystems from scratch - Android consoles, not at all.

    These Android consoles, on the other hand, could have ten people buy them total and still have hundreds of games with more in the pipeline at any given time. I doubt the companies making these expect them to be extremely popular - but since they are piggybacking off of an existing gaming ecosystem rather than trying to create their own from scratch, they can offer a product that will have support with low initial investment and as such expect far lower returns while still making a product.

    Niche product, in my eyes, and I doubt the companies making them think otherwise.