Mike Mauler, senior vice president of GameStop, recently told GamesIndustry.biz that the retailer's upcoming "game slinging" service is on track for a 2012 launch. It will require consumers to own an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 console, and a physical copy of a specific game. The streaming version will be an additional purchase, but will play on other devices like tablets and internet-connected HDTVs.
"We're not looking at a service where you can just play games in the cloud, you would buy the game through our loyalty program, and through a partnership with the publishers, we would give them an opportunity to possibly - this is still something we're working out - to be able to play their game when they're not at home with their Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3," Mauler explained.
"You would have to actually own a console and buy the game," he added. "And in this case we're making very closely with the console manufacturers. It would be an additional service that you would be able to purchase as you buy a copy of the game to play on your Xbox. So it's a win-win for everybody."
In addition to selling cloud-based versions, GameStop also wants to offer streaming console demos as seen with Gaikai, and a service for PC gamers that allows them to purchase and play the game as soon as it begins to digitally download -- possibly within 30 seconds. Mauler didn't elaborate on the latter service, but there may be stiff competition from OnLive which only requires the user to download a small client to play purchased or rented games.
But given that the industry is changing at a rapid pace, GameStop is willing to remain flexible in order to keep up with the fast-developing and evolving environment. "Every time we think of something new at five other things pop up," he said. "I don't think anyone at this point knows what the next 3-5 years are going to throw up. It's exciting."
When launched, the streaming service will be offered to GameStop's PowerUp rewards program members which currently enlists over 12 million gamers. A closed beta is already up and running, but an open beta is expected to launch sometime before the end of the year.