BlueStacks, the startup known for bringing Android apps to PCs and Macs, has been growing like a weed. Last week, the company announced that it had passed the 10 million user milestone, nearly half of which were added in the first quarter of this year. Today, hot on the heels of the news that OUYA has landed $15 million from Kleiner Perkins to bring its affordable, $99 Android-friendly gaming console to the masses, BlueStacks is firing back with some news of its own.
Looking to tap into a huge new audience, BlueStacks is today bringing those 750K-plus Android apps not just to PCs and Macs, but to TVs as well with its own gaming console and subscription service. The new package, called “GamePop,” includes a custom console and game controller for free, as part of its $6.99/month service. Well, actually, the console is free through the end of May, at which point BlueStacks will slap on a price tag.
The price of the console has yet to be determined, but the company tells me that GamePop has an “estimated value of approximately $100,” so one can probably expect the pricing to fall in that range — or five times that, depending on how saucy BlueStacks is feeling. Of course, $100 is the “estimated” value, and gamers can get their hands on the whole package for $84 (for a year of the service) now, so take that for what it’s worth. After May, it will probably be more like $184 for 12 months of gameplay.
Right now, gamers can pre-order GamePop from BlueStacks’ homepage (which redirects to gamepop.tv), with consoles expected to ship this winter. Naturally, for this early flight, BlueStacks is selling GamePop exclusively through its own site, but after the first round of shipments, likely beginning next year, expect GamePop to begin showing up in stores.
As for who is responsible for manufacturing and producing BlueStacks’ new gaming console, the company isn’t revealing the man behind the curtain yet. But considering the startup has already struck distribution agreements with several recognizable names in the PC ecosystem, like Intel, AMD, Asus, MSI and Lenovo, it’s probably safe to say that at least one of those companies played a hand in the design, production and distribution. Asus, for one, has the most Android experience, but that’s just speculation at this point.
BlueStacks unveiled GamePop at GDC, allowing developers to take an early look at the gaming service, but has yet to put any in the hands of either developers or reporters. Though, from the looks of it, the industrial design appears to bear some resemblance to D-Link’s Boxee Box.
In the big picture, with today’s announcements, GamePop and OUYA seem to be proving that there’s plenty of demand out there for an affordable gaming console. As Jordan said this morning, OUYA very deliberately set its price at $99 and will be offering games on a “free-to-try” basis, which founder Julie Uhrman says is a core tenet of OUYA itself. Unsurprisingly, that’s resonated with people.
OUYA has seen more than 12,000 developers sign up for its platform, 4,000 of which have signed up since March. What’s more, GameStop, Best Buy and Amazon have already agreed to sell its console, with availability expected to begin in late June. That gives the Kickstarter-born open console a head-start on GamePop in terms of availability and distribution partnerships. And, depending on the price of games after trial, a price advantage, too. So, depending on OUYA’s success this summer and fall, it wouldn’t be surprising to see BlueStacks tweak its pricing accordingly.
With some competition afoot, BlueStacks will be trying to incentivize potential customers with its content deals, which include a handful of top game developers, like Glu Mobile, Halfbrick and OutFit7, for example, as well as Intellijoy, Deemedya and Droidhen. More will be announced over the next few months, the company tells us.
The announcement of GamePop follows the startup’s move in February to bring its App Player software to Surface Pro PCs and other devices running Windows 8. BlueStacks’ arrival on Windows 8, combined with its existing deals with AMD, Asus and Lenovo, will see its software preloaded onto over 100 million PCs over the course of the year, which could potentially help BlueStacks find a reach and scale that’s unusual for a startup — in software or gaming.
For more on GamePop, find the intro video below: