So it looks as if everyone is getting into the tablet market these days, though GameStop’s approach is very unique. Rather than have a custom-made tablet or OS, they are simply going to take an existing tablet they have selected but not announced and put their own flavor of Android on it. It is currently unclear as to what version of Android the tablet will run, but the tablet will launch with a number of titles pre-installed. GameStop says they will consider the tablet to be a “GameStop certified gaming platform” and will sell it alongside hardware from Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo and Apple when it hits stores next year.
Gamestop’s CEO Tony Bartel said that the company didn’t see any need to create a new tablet with hundreds already on the market. They will use their existing refurbishment center to get the tablets preloaded with their Android OS version and preload certain games on it. The company has already begun testing the hardware with customers in Dallas, TX. Dallas happens to be pretty close to the company’s beta testing site for the streaming technology it bought from Spawn Labs. GameStop admits that initially the tablet will only have a modest selection of games, they intend to stream console games to the device and ship a dedicated controller for it.
All things considered I think this is a smart play from GameStop with very little risk for them. They haven’t spent tons of money in development and production cost for new hardware and have simply modified a version of the existing and popular Android OS. I’m sure they have sunk a few hundred thousand into the OS modifications and what not but for GameStop there is really no large risk here. Even if it fails the company has very little exposure and they get the opportunity to see if this model can really work. At this point, I am not sure it will depend on how well that controller works and the price point. More than anything else, the price point will be crucial. The tablet won’t be new so you can’t charge new prices but they have to be able to recoup cost unless they plan to make that up on game’ sales. I know they probably won’t but a $99 price point would be very attractive in terms of marketing it as a gaming device and as a way for their customers to stay up on all the latest GameStop news, sales, and contest. For my money, their maximum threshold in terms of price is probably $150, anything above that and I just can’t see it being a success.