There's a new kid on the Google (NAS: GOOG) Android block, and it's none other than video-game retailer GameStop (NYS: GME) ! Hints were dropped earlier this year amidst a couple of not-at-all-related-to-physical-retail acquisitions.
GameStop is taking a novel approach to the tablet game. Rather than come up with new hardware in an already saturated market, the company has chosen an existing unnamed model that will be a "GameStop certified gaming platform," according to GameStop president Tony Bartel in an interview with GamesIndustry.
It will launch with a number of games pre-installed and bear the company's own branding. The company is currently in the testing phase, and the hardware will also come with a custom-designed dedicated controller, since it believes the full gaming potential of tablets can only be unlocked with a controller.
The ultimate goal will be to eventually stream console games directly to the device and embrace cloud gaming, similar to startup OnLive. Bartel also dropped some hints that the company may be working directly with developers to create games meant to utilize its specific controller and to be streamed directly to the tablet.
The retailer will sell the tablet alongside existing gaming hardware from the Big Three: Sony's (NYS: SNE) PlayStation 3, Microsoft's (NAS: MSFT) Xbox 360, and Nintendo's (OTC BB: NTDOY.PK) Wii. This comes just shortly after also getting into the Apple (NAS: AAPL) iOS hardware market, acknowledging that platform's gaming capabilities.
Barnes & Noble's (NYS: BKS) Nook has done better than expected, which could signal to other brick-and-mortar retailers that the tablet water's warm. With U.S. retail sales of video-game systems and software dropping 26% according to recent figures from NPD Group, this move to the clouds is a step in the right direction. GameStop's sales haven't been hurt as badly, declining by roughly only 3% last quarter from the previous year.
Cloud gaming is a young frontier. Bartel still thinks it's a little too early for the best gaming experience, but the move acknowledges that the potential is there. It's a fresh take on jumping into mobile. If the company can garner support from developers and provide a catalog of exclusive content tailored to its "certified" hardware and custom controller, it may have a shot at winning cloud gamers over.
Ultimately, any shot at the tablet market that doesn't include an Apple logo is bound to be slim. If nothing else, you have to at least give the company some credit for having a unique strategy.
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At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorEvan Niuowns shares of Apple, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out hisholdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of GameStop, Apple, Microsoft, and Google.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Microsoft, Apple, and Google, creating bull call spread positions in Microsoft and Apple, and writing covered calls in GameStop. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.
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