Yep, you read that right. Apple has changed the face of gaming so strongly thanks to its iPad tablet (not to mention the iPhone) and download-only game apps that video game retailer GameStop is feeling the burn. In addition to Apple’s iOS, there are all the Android tablets starting to pop up. Now GameStop is getting in on the action, too — but there’s a big, honkin’ twist.
Barnes & Noble’s got one. Amazon’s working on one. HP’s died a young death. Sony just released theirs. Nintendo’s even incorporating one into their next game console.
Touchscreen tablets are the new hotness in the computing world, and gamers in droves are discovering the unique brand of fun and tremendous potential that they offer. GameStop — which recently added iPads and iPhones to its trade-in program — announced today that they’re working on a branded tablet of their very own, but with one distinct difference that will set it apart from all others.
Early details suggest that the GameStop tablet — which like all of its non-Apple brethren, will use Android as its OS — will have several game titles pre-installed when you buy it. The other thing it will have is its own dedicated controller. Why a controller for a tablet? Because GameStop intends to stream console games directly to their tablet, and you’ll need a controller to properly play console games.
So not only will you play Angry Birds on your GameStop tablet, you’ll be able to play Gears of War 3, as well. On paper, it’s a compelling idea, don’t you think? With one purchase — a single, handheld device — you’ll get access to both Xbox 360 games and PS3 games. (Who knows whether they’ll embrace Nintendo’s Wii U platform and it’s games, or whether they even could. The differences between how those games are played could make streaming them to a tablet impossible.) GameStop also says that they’re considering reaching out to developers to test the waters regarding creating exclusive games designed specifically to take advantage of a tablet with a peripheral controller.
But let’s back up to those triple-A console titles for a second. Can you imagine playing Assassin’s Creed or Deus Ex on a tablet? I can’t even wrap my head around what that will be like. And there are all sorts of question marks instantly attached to this idea… I’m not at all convinced that the technology is ready for this. I mean, the only way to stream games this way is from a dedicated server farm (a la OnLive). GameStop doesn’t currently have a streaming game service, so they’ll presumably be sinking mega bucks into this thing. And they’ll need a blistering fast Android tablet and an even faster Wifi service.
And what about the Big Three console makers themselves? How will they feel about this? One assumes that GameStop will have to license the console games that it streams. But having sold console games for years, it goes without saying that GameStop has good relationships with the Big Three. So they’ll probably work this out.
Another issue that GameStop will have to deal with is the super-fast speed of tablet evolution. Tablets are constantly getting faster and faster. Just look at the drastic jump in processing power between the iPad and iPad 2. The technology moves much faster than consoles do. How will GameStop be able to create one definitive tablet for streaming games from the three major consoles that won’t be obsolete before you can blink? Simply put: next year’s GameStop tablet will always be significantly better at streaming console data than this year’s. This represents a heavy investment for both hardware makers and consumers. Is GameStop willing to keep up with advances in tablet technology?
There’s no launch window or price yet announced yet for GameStop’s tablet, but we’ll be watching its development closely.