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New gaming entrant BlueStacks has announced it will launch a second game console this fall dubbed the GamePop Mini. Like its recently announced $129 GamePop console, the new machine will play mobile games on a big-screen television. The aim is to disrupt traditional game consoles with cheaper Android and iOS-based titles. But this new mini-console will be “forever free,” says BlueStacks.
The Campbell, Calif.-based BlueStacks calls this the “Netflixication of gaming.” This means that it plans to disrupt other game businesses by offering $200 in paid games for free, so long as the user pays a $6.99 monthly subscription fee for the company’s GamePop mobile gaming service. The first console, the GamePop, will be free until June 30 for those who sign up for a subscription preorder. But the GamePop Mini will be always free with a subscription. GamePop preorders started on May 9 and the company says they are stronger than expected.
“We have always planned on having a free console option,” said BlueStacks chief executive Rosen Sharma. “The biggest value of the GamePop service is its content – not the box. Hardware costs have come down so fast that we’re able to undercut the rest of the market. With the free promotion we’ve been doing in June, we’re already seeing a ton of adoption. That volume then attracts more developers and therefore more and better content. It’s building momentum.”
The new device will be available for preorder on July and will run the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean version and connect to a TV via a HDMI cable. It will come with a curated group of 500 popular mobile games. Partners include HalfBrick (Fruit Ninja, Jetpack Joyride), Glu (Blood Brothers), and kids app developer Intellijoy. Sharma said that the two consoles will be able to play the same games and use the same subscription service, but the Mini will have less rendering power than the regular GamePop. He also said that the regular GamePop will have more ports, but he declined to be more specific.
It might be easier to do one console at a time, but Sharma said in an interview with GamesBeat, “We have always been planning to do this for a long time.”
BlueStacks also came out with its “Looking Glass” technology earlier this month. Looking Glass will enable iOS-only developers to easily launch on GamePop. Titles such as iOS’s first major franchise, the Fieldrunners series, will be able to come to TVs this way.
“We want to make things as easy as possible for app developers to come on board,” said Ben Armstrong on BlueStacks’ developer relations team. “There is a virtuous circle between great content and volume that we’re having a lot of early success jumpstarting that so far. The launch titles a service comes with are critical.”
The GamePop Mini is slated to ship this winter.
BlueStacks was founded in 2009, and it launched an App Player that converts Android software so that it can run on a computer. The company has raised $15 million from Intel, Andreessen-Horowitz, Radar Partners, Redpoint, Ignition Partners, and Qualcomm. App Player has more than 10 million registered users.
The company was particularly inspired by Japanese carrier KDDI’s subscription mobile app service Au Smart Pass, which gives customers access to hundreds of popular paid apps for just a few bucks a month. In just one year, that service managed to bring in $250 million in revenue for KDDI. GamePop does not plan to sell games on an à la carte basis.
The company will have a lot of competition this fall, including Ouya, the PlayStation 4, the Xbox One, and other Android gaming solutions for the living room.