Many of you probably remember the BlueStacks GamePop. It's been in the spotlight quite a bit lately, if only because it's another Android powered game console. Where GamePop differs from the OUYA and the Gamestick is its mechanics. Instead of controlling the console with a gamepad, consumers will be able to connect and use their smartphones.
Apparently, BlueStacks has also decided to introduce a 'free' subscription-based game console. The standard GamePop is $129, whereas the Mini is "free" after you pay a full 12-months in subscription fees. More specifically, it will cost $7 a month or $84 total. John Garguilo, Head of Marketing and Business Development at BlueStacks said the following to Engadget:
"If you keep it more than 12 months, you keep it forever."
That being said, you can't do much with the console unless you have an active subscription.
"It'd be like if Netflix did it this way and had hardware - the unit would be useless without the subscription."
If you return the Mini before your entire 12 months subscription agreement is complete you'll have to pony up a $25 restocking fee. It can be likened to a cancellation fee for wireless service, with the exception that it's a whole lot cheaper.
Still, it doesn't seem like there's much to justify getting the "free" variant of the console over the standard variant. Especially considering you still have to pay the subscription fees in order to play games. It's like signing a binding contract. At least with the full and paid version you can cancel your subscription at any time, if you slow down playing with the thing.
As for the titles that GamePop will offer, it seems like there will be a large selection, but the company is targeting kids specifically.
"We have seven-year-olds in our office that know every single title that we're bringing onboard but couldn't care less about Call of Duty, ShadowGun or that kind of stuff. It's not that we're only going to have Wii-styled kids titles, but that's definitely a demographic we're focusing on because they play a lot of games."
The young demographic is also why the company adopted the current payment strategy, allowing customers to pay subscription fees.
"They [kids] have 150 games on their phones. If they paid $10 each for those, they wouldn't be so psyched [about gaming]. We want to give all-you-can-eat access to all the best games for a small monthly fee."
The console even works with iOS games, which means consumers aren't buckled down to just Android titles. It actually uses an unspecified type of proprietary technology to translate iOS games for use with Android 4.2. Essentially when an iOS game or application calls for a specific type of Apple hardware, the console technology remaps those requests for use with its own internal hardware. The related apps still need to be ported to operate on the console properly:
"[Porting is] not easy, but I would submit it's not hard, relatively speaking."
Garguilo says that all developers can get their games on the console.
"If you're a developer and you've built your app and put it on iOS, it's your app. You built it, you own the bits and you own all the intellectual property. If you apply Looking Glass' layer, you can put [your app] on a TV with us."
Personally, I'm not fond of the GamePop, because I can't see a smartphone or tablet offering a decent control scheme. I don't know many people that prefer using touch controls over standard gamepad buttons. Or am I wrong about that?