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Video game retailer GameStop announces branded Android tablet

by Phil Hornshaw

Following the news that GameStop, a video game retailer and resell chain, is starting to carry Apple’s iOS mobile devices, the company has announced it’ll have a tablet of its own – running Google’s Android.

GamesIndustry has the story, in which GameStop president Tony Bartel says the company already has a tablet model in mind for the tablet, so it isn’t creating a whole new device, just working out a deal to have a GameStop-branded tablet. It’ll be sold as GameStop’s platform alongside hardware from other gaming companies, including Microsoft, Apple and Sony, Bartel said.

“We're in test phase right now. But we're excited at the prospect of coming out with this tablet,” Bartel told GamesIndustry. “I would call it a ‘GameStop certified gaming platform.’ We looked at all the tablets and these are the ones that really worked for gaming and we're going to give you a few benefits that you're not going to get elsewhere.”

The branded tablet will come pre-loaded with some mobile games, but the real kicker is in competing with game-streaming service OnLive. GameStop intends to use its streaming game service, still in beta testing, to allow users to play console games on the tablet by streaming them over the Internet. GameStop intends to sell a dedicated controller to go with the tablets.

For the record, that’s exactly the plan for OnLive, which also streams games over the Internet. Currently they’re PC titles, which players can stream to their computers or to an OnLive “micro console,” which hooks up to a TV like a regular video game console. OnLive intends to bring the streaming service to Apple’s iPad and to Android tablets such as the HTC Flyer later this year. It also intends to sell a dedicated controller for tablet gaming.

All that remains now is to find out what tablet GameStop intends to be its flagship in its cloud streaming initiative. Whatever the choice, it should greatly expand tablet functionality for Android users. The ability to stream games to tablets seems like it could be a bit of a game-changer for tablet owners and video game fans alike, especially if GameStop’s (and OnLive’s) streaming capabilities are opened up to more devices. I already previewed OnLive’s streaming service, and it led to a lot of excitement about the future possibilities of the industry.

Bartel doesn’t think tablet streaming is quite ready for prime time when it comes to triple-A video game titles, but the development is in the works, he said. GameStop’s service remains in testing, and it is currently testing its tablets before it announces when they’ll be made available in stores.