If you're BlueStacks, the startup that figured out how to bring Android apps to Windows and Macs with its eponymous app player, the next logical step is to upend the mobile gaming market with a console and subscription service called GamePop, the company announced Thursday.
GamePop preorders are available immediately at GamePop.tv, with consoles shipping this winter. As of today, the console ships with 500 Android games, worth $250, and a promise to add more once it's released.
"We feel that everyone already has a controller in their pocket," said John Gargiulo, BlueStacks' marketing and business development vice president. To that end, GamePop will work with either Android or iOS phones and tablets as controllers, even though the GamePop console runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and will work with standard controllers.
To use your Android or iOS device as a controller, you'll have to download an app, and then connect your phone or tablet to the console over Bluetooth.
Although GamePop runs on Android, Garguilo was cagey when asked about whether it would ever support iOS games. "GamePop will run Android titles only, for the time being," he said.
The GamePop console looks like a white version of Boxee's cut-corner cube, and it will ship for free to subscribers who join before May 31. Gargiulo said the company has yet to determine a price for the console after that date, but that its value is around $100. BlueStacks says that people who preorder won't have their credit cards charged until the console ships, and that preorders made before the end of May will also get a standard game-pad controller to use alongside their phone or tablet.
Games themselves will be available as an all-you-can-play subscription costing $6.99 per month. "We are the Netflix for games model," Gargiulo added.
"BlueStacks has credibility in the microconsole space that others just don't have," Shainiel Deo, chief executive of Halfbrick, said in a statement. "We've been a featured partner in [BlueStacks'] App Player since early on, and they've delivered on every promise in terms of distribution. GamePop is a great incremental channel for us."
BlueStacks wouldn't confirm that its LayerCake technology and other proprietary code for running Android apps on Windows and Mac are powering GamePop's Android games on TVs, but it would be surprising if at least some of it isn't, given that there are screen scaling issues for both.
Gargiulo did confirm that BlueStacks is talking to Electronic Arts, one of the world's biggest gaming companies, for GamePop. EA just landed the new Star Wars gaming contract, so it would not be impossible for GamePop to have Star Wars games sooner rather than later.
Rumors about Google taking a big leap into the deep end of gaming don't have Gargiulo fazed. "We've talked with developers about this and they agree," he said. "These games are way too good to be stuck on a 4-inch screen."
With a subscription price lower than for Netflix streaming and with what sounds like a healthy stack of top-shelf games at launch, the upstart gaming console appears only to be lacking a physical product and an accompanying, reasonable price.
GamePop is not only the name of a new gaming console and subscription service, it's also likely the sound of many gaming executives' heads exploding at the news of its launch.
Corrected May 9 at 9:55 a.m.: The price of the monthly subscription is $6.99.
Updated May 9 at 9:55 a.m.: Added more information about the number of games shipping with the console.