GameStop to Launch Its Own Android Gaming Tablet in 2012

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Your next Android tablet may well be dedicated to video games, and the company behind it’s arguably the one you’d least expect: GameStop. That’s right, the monster-sized video games retailer we’d probably have long since bid farewell, but for the company’s prescient move into the used games market, now responsible for over half its annual profits.

I’m not kidding. GameStop president Tony Bartel told GamesIndustry.biz that the company’s planning to use the Android operating system for a branded tablet (a “GameStop certified gaming platform”) that’ll launch next year with several preinstalled games and go toe-to-toe with the usual suspects: Apple, Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony.

(MORE: GameStop Mulls a Tablet, Will Soon Buy Yours)

So are we talking about a brand new Android tablet? Something specially designed just for GameStop? Nope, says Bartel, who sees the crowded Android market as an opportunity to pick a horse from existing hardware.

“We definitely have selected one,” said Bartel. “We’re in test phase right now. But we’re excited at the prospect of coming out with this tablet. 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.”

Benefits like? Dedicated controllers, for starters, as well as streaming PC and console games. But on a tablet? Imagine streaming Battlefield 3 or Modern Warfare 3 to a tablet and playing using your fingers. Can’t imagine that? Neither can Bartel, who says GameStop’s designing a controller to rectify the obvious shortcoming.

Not mentioned by Bartel: whether the GameStop tablet would support direct video connections (or streaming wireless) to an external monitor or TV. I’ve argued this before: Tablets are easily powerful enough today to compete with set-top consoles. Who’s to say you couldn’t use an iPad 2 or high-end Android OS device with a Bluetooth wireless controller, and send the video to your 50- or 60-inch TV screen? Why can’t tablets be consoles?

The only correct answer is they can. We’re just waiting for someone bold enough to make the first move.

MORE: GameStop to Buy and Sell iOS Devices, Finally Validate Mobile Gaming?

Matt Peckham is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @mattpeckham or on Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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