National video game retailer GameStop made a couple of high-profile acquisitions at the end of last month. Impulse is probably the more familiar of the two, a digital download service that, like Steam, is a sort of “iTunes Store for games.” The other pickup was Spawn Labs, a company that develops game-streaming technology.
The March press release noted that Spawn will work with the retailer’s research & development team “to develop GameStop’s growing suite of digital game products and services,” with the long-term goal being to offer customers “immediate access to a wide selection of high-definition video games on demand on any Internet-enabled device.” It seems that some initial steps are being taken toward some of those Internet-enabled devices, as a new job posting reveals that GameStop is developing an Android port of its Spawn Player for tablets and smartphones.
The LinkedIn posting, spotted by a Joystiq reader, is for a senior software engineer position, someone who “will be responsible for the development and maintenance of our Player software on Android tablets and smartphones.” Prior to the acquisition, Spawn Labs offered what was essentially a gaming-focused SlingBox, allowing users to remotely stream content from their home consoles using a computer-based software application and a console-connected Spawn HD-720 box. GameStop has bigger plans however, intended to use Spawn as a launchpad into the cloud gaming arena currently being dominated by OnLive.
An iOS client is possible as well, though it is less likely. Joystiq points back to a community forums discussion from a few months ago in which Spawn’s David Wilson noted that Apple‘s control over “the physical and Bluetooth interfaces” makes it difficult to offer connectivity for console-style controllers.
If GameStop really hopes to bring cloud gaming to the masses, it is going to first need to figure out a way to get around the need to build a community. That’s the issue facing OnLive. As attractive as the “game anywhere, on anything” service is, most gamers aren’t willing to give up their Achievements, Trophies, friends lists and the like, especially since they’ve already made the necessary investment of buying a gaming console.