GamePop, an upcoming game console with a Netflix-like subscription model, has another trick up its sleeve.
In addition to playing Android-based games on televisions, GamePop will also be able to run games made for Apple’s iPhone and iPad. BlueStacks, the company behind GamePop, says it has its own mobile-to-TV technology called “Looking Glass” that makes big-screen iOS gaming possible.
BlueStacks announced the GamePop console and game controller last month, though they won’t be shipping until this winter. The hardware itself will eventually cost $129, but for now the company is giving away the console and controller if you sign up for a year of all-you-can-eat gaming, priced at $6.99 per month (or $84 total).
As I wrote before, the challenge for GamePop will be to prove the value of its mobile game subscription. Many mobile games these days are either free-to-play or dirt-cheap, so although BlueStacks is promising a $250 value from its free game selection, users may not see disposable mobile games as being worth that kind of money. Bringing in iOS games might help, especially if GamePop can get some of the meatier games that aren’t available on Android. (I’d love, for instance, to see the recent iOS port of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic or the upcoming Deus Ex: The Fall on the big screen.)
A handful of iOS games already support phone-to-TV play using AirPlay and an Apple TV. For instance, you can use an iPhone or iPad as a steering wheel in Real Racing 2. But the way GamePop works is different. Instead of streaming the game from the phone, as Airplay does, BlueStacks uses virtualization to run the game directly on the television. The result should be less lag between pressing a button and seeing something happen on the big screen.
But can Apple put the kibosh on these iOS games coming to another company’s game console? Not according to BlueStacks. A spokesman tells me that GamePop isn’t using any of Apple’s “bits” in translating iOS games to GamePop. Developers simply hand over their code with a few minor changes (such as using Google’s payment platform instead of Apple’s) and GamePop’s Looking Glass technology handles the rest. Apple has no involvement.
It sounds promising, assuming that GamePop can build up a good roster of games that were once iOS exclusives. I’m still a bit skeptical of GamePop’s business model, but at least it’s finding more ways to distinguish itself from competitors like Ouya and GameStick.