Last month GameStop revealed that it acquired Spawn Labs to gain access to its proprietary streaming technology. The retailer also said it entered an agreement with Stardock Systems to purchase its subsidiary Impulse, a gaming-focused digital distribution platform. Immediately GameStop's double-announcement seemed obvious-- it plans to launch a digital distribution platform similar to Steam, but also offer on-demand gaming as seen with OnLive.
"Spawn Labs, part of the GameStop network, brings patented technology and a talented team of technologists with unique game streaming and virtualization expertise," GameStop said in a press release. "The Spawn Labs team will work closely with GameStop's existing R&D group to develop GameStop's growing suite of digital game products and services. Once the Spawn Labs integration and testing on a new consumer interface is complete, users will have immediate access to a wide selection of high-definition video games on demand on any Internet-enabled device."
Before GameStop's acquisition, Spawn Labs offered a device that streamed console gaming to any computer located on the same network. Gamers simply connected their consoles to the Spawn HD-720 box and loaded up the Spawn Player client on a networked PC. Currently it's unknown whether this device (or a variation thereof) will be incorporated into GameStop's plan to take on OnLive's streaming-based console.
On the Impulse front, GameStop said the acquisition will provide three specific components: the client for accessing a library of more than 1,100 games on day one; a toolset for developers in adding achievements, customer-friendly DRM (whatever lol), friend lists, real-time chat, multiplayer lobbies and more; and a publishing client for real-time reporting and product management.
Up until now, little else has been known about the upcoming GameStop digital distribution/steaming service. However a current LinkedIn job listing shows that GameStop is looking for a senior software engineer to bring the Spawn Player to Google's Android OS. "The Sr. Software Engineer will be responsible for the development and maintenance of our Player software on Android tablets and smartphones," the listing specifically reads. "The ideal candidate will have several years of experience in application development in Android or iOS applications."
Although the job application mentions iOS experience, GameStop may never successfully develop a client for Apple devices. "Getting the audio and video onto the iPhone or iPad is not too hard," Spawn Labs' David Wilson previously pointed out. "Getting game control in a way that works for console games is hard -- but only because Apple controls both the physical and Bluetooth interfaces to the device."
With an Android client in development, does that mean gamers will be able to stream their Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 games to an Android smartphone or tablet? Will there be a way to stream downloaded PC games to those devices too? GameStop has yet to reveal its full plans for world domination, but we expect to hear more about its new platform at E3 2011 this June.