GameStop, the well-known video game retailer, has been making waves with its innovative approach to the gaming industry. One of its latest ventures, Kongregate Arcade, was aimed at delivering free-to-play mobile games. However, with the decline of Adobe Flash for mobile, the future of Kongregate Arcade seemed uncertain. GameStop’s Executive Vice President, Tony Bartel, referred to the app as a “brand-building exercise” rather than a commercial product due to the impact of Flash no longer being supported on mobile devices.
Despite this setback, GameStop reported that Kongregate’s overall business doubled in the past year and has seen a further 50 percent increase in the first quarter. Bartel remains interested in the potential of Kongregate games on mobile but believes that web and HTML5 platforms still need to mature. He acknowledges that as the platform evolves, Kongregate will need to adapt to accommodate these changes.
GameStop’s acquisition of Spawn Labs, a streaming game platform, further demonstrates the company’s commitment to innovation. Bartel initially appeared reserved when asked about the platform but became more enthusiastic when discussing Sony’s recent acquisition of Gaikai. He expressed confidence in GameStop’s investment in Spawn Labs, hinting that they are well-positioned for success.
However, when pressed about the launch of the service, Bartel mentioned the need for a significant investment and the current lack of a viable commercial opportunity. It became evident that GameStop is unsure how to scale the service, as its fundamental concept hasn’t evolved since its inception. Bartel revealed that the Spawn Labs service still requires the connection of a physical game console for each remote player. While this approach offers platform compatibility, it presents challenges such as the need to switch out discs for different games and potential latency issues compared to competitors like OnLive and Gaikai, who rely on virtualization and dedicated servers.
Legal challenges also loom over GameStop’s streaming service ambitions. A US district court previously issued an injunction against a startup called Zediva for offering a streaming movie service by playing physical DVDs. Bartel acknowledges the potential conflicts of interest between GameStop and game publishers but asserts the strength of their relationships. He believes that GameStop’s position as the largest video game retailer makes it a valuable distribution and discovery platform for game publishers.
GameStop is not limiting its innovative endeavors to streaming services. Bartel revealed plans to launch a cross-platform app for Android and iOS later this year. The app aims to help users discover quality games, similar to Nvidia’s Tegra Zone or Qualcomm’s GameCommand. However, Bartel clarified that the app will not function as a store; instead, users will still purchase games through Google Play and the iTunes App Store. The app will connect to GameStop’s physical retail locations and leverage its PowerUp Rewards points system, bridging the gap between digital and physical gaming experiences.
In conclusion, GameStop continues to push boundaries in the gaming industry with its innovative initiatives. While facing challenges with the evolution of Kongregate Arcade and the scalability of its streaming service, GameStop remains resilient and adaptable. The upcoming cross-platform app demonstrates its commitment to enhancing the gaming experience for users across different platforms. As GameStop navigates these uncharted territories, one thing is for sure: they are determined to capture the heart of gamers and usher in a new era of gaming possibilities.