GameStop to launch cloud gaming service Spawn in summer 2013, with a major tweak

GameStop plans to launch its cloud gaming service in summer 2013 to "PCs, tablets, and connected TVs."

GameStop plans to launch its cloud gaming service, Spawn, in summer 2013 on "PCs, tablets, and connected TVs," according to Tony Bartel, GameStop's president.

"Based on consumer feedback, our success in selling mobile devices and the imminent launch of new consoles, we have decided to move our technology to a PC-based model," Bartel said in a conference call today. "Customers tell us that they prefer to leverage cloud gaming to power their mobile occasions, and we are in active conversations with publishers and developers to leverage our patented game virtualization technology to deliver hundreds of games to PCs, tablets, and connected TVs. We expect to launch this new service in the summer of 2013."

"Hundreds of games" for PCs, tablets, and connected TVs

GameStop purchased Spawn Labs in 2011, acquiring technology to stream video games. Unlike competitors like OnLive, which only virtualize and stream Windows PC games, the Spawn Labs idea works with any video source, allowing for console game streaming. The technology, however, requires that a separate console each with its own disc be set up for each player, which has presented challenges in scaling the service.

Bartel's statement can imply two different possibilities. First, that GameStop would move away from streaming console games at all, modifying the Spawn formula to stream Windows PC games and thereby directly compete with OnLive.

The other possibility is that, by focusing on "PCs, tablets, and connected TVs," GameStop may still stream console games, but it won't stream them to actual game consoles.

The press release annoucing the Spawn Labs acquisition said that GamesStop wanted to bring "access to a wide selection of high-definition video games on demand on any Internet-enabled device." Today's announcement appears to be more limited in scope.

We reached out to GameStop for clarification, and a representative reiterated Bartel's statement above from earlier today rather than offering additional detail.

The announcement may also signal a shift from the company's traditional focus on selling new and used console games to a more PC-focused business model, which would include both games and services like Spawn. Earlier today, GameStop announced that, despite an 11.1 percent drop in global sales, its digital revenue increased 27 percent.

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