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Gamestop may soon offer game-streaming services for tablets and notebooks

New streaming service could compete with OnLive. GameStop president hints at possible tablet designed around the new Gamestop streaming service.

The hardcore gaming crowds of this generation could soon be playing their favorite games on today’s tablets and netbooks.

According to DallasNews, GameStop is planning to use its recently acquired company, Spawn Labs, to introduce a game-streaming service for tablets and laptops. Before the purchase, Spawn Labs was a technical company that specialized in software allowing internal game developers and publishers to share and view game development tools and progress. The article likened the technology to a “high-end IM service,” where workers can still communicate and access the same tools even if at different locations.

While gamers will instantly draw similarities to the competing OnLive service, the GameStop streaming service will be vastly different under the hood. Instead of relying on high-performance servers for the computing loads, the Gamestop service will be using individual Xbox 360s and PS3s to run the games and to stream the videos to devices miles away. Quality of up to 720p can be obtained through a 5Mpbs connection, the DallasNews article claims. A demo of the service was also shown off last Friday to a select few attendees, with reportedly flawless results.

The major advantage for gamers, then, is the potential for the GameStop service to stream any game that is currently offered for the Xbox 360 or PS3 to mobile devices, including exclusive titles such as Halo Reach and Uncharted 2. Players will still need to purchase a hard copy of the game directly from GameStop, however, before they are given access to stream that specific title. In comparison, those familiar with OnLive will know its game selection is somewhat limited to 3rd party developers such as EA, Ubisoft, and BioWare, due to 1st party games being incompatible with the OnLive hardware.

In addition, GameStop president Tony Bartel hinted at a possible GameStop tablet. “If we feel like we could do a better job of making a tablet, we’ll do that,” he said. Bartel could be referring to the current lineup of consumer tablets that are poorly equipped for button-heavy games. For a GameStop branded tablet, we would expect dedicated gaming buttons and software optimized for the streaming service.

The OnLive service was announced for tablets earlier last month, more specifically for the HTC Flyer. Valve’s digital distribution software Steam could also be making its way to mobile devices according to previous reports. Hardcore gaming just got a lot more serious in the tablet world.


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Allen Ngo, 2011-04- 4 (Update: 2012-05-26)