Saturday, June 29, 2013

BlueStacks introduces the GamePop Mini, its first subscription-based 'free' game console

In an effort to outdo itself, BlueStacks is announcing the GamePop Mini for the cube-buying averse. The biggest difference between the Mini (seen above on the left) and the cube (the... uh... cube above) isn't the form factor, it's in pricing. Where the regular GamePop is $129 (unless you act soon) the Mini is "free" after a 12-month subscription of $7 per-month, or $84 total. At this price, it costs less than an OUYA, but slightly more than a GameStick. "If you keep it more than 12 months, you keep it forever," BlueStacks' Head of Marketing and Business Development John Gargiulo told us. Of course, there's not much to do with with the Mini without a subscription. "It'd be like if Netflix did it this way and had hardware - the unit would be useless without the subscription." Additionally, if you return the Mini inside of 12 months, there's a $25 restocking fee.

The subscription gives users access to a plethora of games from 500 "popular mobile game partners." Those partners include the teams behind Jetpack Joyride and Fieldrunners. "Getting the kind of developer support we've gotten, it sets us apart. We saw what happened with the Dreamcast and we saw what happened with the Wii U. You need to have good launch titles; there needs to be games everyone recognizes and wants to play."

To make GamePop more enticing to developers, Bluestacks created Looking Glass -- proprietary tech allowing iOS-only apps to run on its Android-4.2-based console. When an iOS app makes calls to Apple's hardware, Looking Glass interprets those calls and translates them to the GamePop Mini's hardware. Of course, a few changes within the code are necessary. "[Porting is] not easy, but I would submit it's not hard, relatively speaking," Garguilo said.

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