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.
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...
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.
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.