GameStop: Tablets are “next explosion in the gaming space,” selling “immersive” tablet games is way forward

Tuesday, 5 April 2011 10:12 GMT By Nathan Grayson

After nabbing Stardock’s Impusle service out of the blue, one thing’s for sure: GameStop’s done playing around.

Speaking with Gamasutra, GameStop president Tony Bartel outlined the next step in his company’s plan for digital domination. In a nutshell, it’s tablets or bust for the suddenly forward-thinking retail giant.

“If we can work with our partners and the OEMs and they come up with a great tablet that is enabled with a great gaming experience and coupled with a bluetooth controller, then there’s no need to go out and develop our own,” he said. “But if we can’t find one that’s great for gaming, then we will create our own.”

He went on to describe tablets as the “next explosion in the gaming space,” and explained that both Impulse and streaming service Spawn will deliver content to them.

Granted, this is hardly uncharted territory for games. GameStop, though, doesn’t have any intention of getting cozy with the rest of the pack.

“Our whole premise is there are a lot of people caught up in the 99 cent fray and a lot of people frustrated by that,” Bartel explained. “We really believe that’s a chance for us to lead the tablet playing field. … Just like people create [lower-priced, immersive] games for the PC, we think people will begin to create immersive games for a higher price for the tablets. Someone needs to offer those games, and that’s something GameStop will be the leader in doing.”

Similarly, while streaming competitors like OnLive only use their networking wizardry on PC games, GameStop plans to bring console games – like Halo: Reach and LittleBigPlanet, which it demonstrated – to other devices. For instance, tablets.

It seems, then, that the retail giant’s serious about breaking free from the confines of brick-and-mortar. So then, why didn’t it just go for broke and purchase Steam? Apparently, its PowerUp Rewards program wouldn’t have meshed well with Valve’s system. And that’s key for GameStop, as the program has been extremely successful.

Don’t take that to mean GameStop’s just another stubborn step or two out from being stuck in its old ways again, however. Even when it comes to the company’s calling card, it’s not afraid to face facts.

“We really don’t anticipate we’re going to have a model [for digital] where people can trade a game back in,” said Bartel.

And there was much rejoicing.

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