Ina Fried

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Android-on-Windows Specialist BlueStacks Takes Aim at Console Gaming

Startup BlueStacks, best known for software that lets Android apps run on Windows, has its eye on the game console business.

GamePop Console

On Thursday, the company is announcing an Android-powered set-top box called the GamePop console. The unit, which takes aim at the Kickstarter-backed Ouya as well as traditional gaming consoles, is built around the Jelly Bean version of Android (4.2), but BlueStacks isn’t disclosing other hardware details, such as what chip will power the device.

The timing of the announcement is a bit unfortunate for BlueStacks, coming the same day that Ouya is announcing that it has raised $15 million in funding from a variety of blue-chip venture backers, including Kleiner Perkins.

Rather than charge for its console, BlueStacks plans to give away the device — at least initially — and will charge a $6.99-per-month subscription fee, which includes game titles such as Fruit Ninja, as well as titles from Glu Mobile, Halfbrick and OutFit7, the maker of the Talking Tom series.

It’s a bit of a departure for BlueStacks, which has been beta testing software that lets Android software run on a desktop computer. That program just passed 10 million downloads.

“Mobile gaming has been taking off the past few years,” BlueStacks CEO Rosen Sharma said in a statement. “BlueStacks’ vision is to bring that same experience to bigger screens.”

Beyond bringing mobile games to the big screen, Sharma also hopes to change the economics that have traditionally supported console gaming — namely expensive high-end hardware subsidized by expensive games.

“The all-you-can-eat pricing model for GamePop lets users enjoy a much broader range of games, just as you can watch more movies with Netflix versus the pay-as-you-go model Blockbuster employed.”

Of course, others — including the aforementioned BlockBuster — also tried subscription gaming, albeit using old-fashioned discs and mailers.


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus