April 06, 2011, 7:17 AM — Another day, another potential tablet announcement. But this time out, there's a twist: it's a retailer who is talking tablets. Specifically, it's Gamestop, and they want to sell you a tablet so that they can then sell you games for that tablet.
Now really this is very similar to what bookstores have been doing. The Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook were both introduced to facilitate the sale of e-books, after all.
Still, as far as I can tell this is the first game-focused deal of this nature (where a retailer starts selling its own hardware). Gamestop President Tony Bartel is tired of seeing all your casual gaming dollars going to Apple's App Store or the Android Market. He told CNBC that his chain is going to start selling tablets later this year. If they can find an existing tablet that meets their requirements they'll sell that:
"If we can work with our partners and the OEMs and they come up with a great tablet that is enabled with a great gaming experience and coupled with a bluetooth controller, then there's no need to go out and develop our own. But if we can't find one that's great for gaming, then we will create our own."
I wonder if Bartel has talked to Sony lately?
This news follows after Gamestop's dual purchases of digital game retailer Impulse and streaming game technology firm Spawn Labs last week. It sounds like Gamestop wants to use Spawn Labs' technology in a way very similar to what Gaikai is doing: as a means to allow customers to try a game before purchasing, without the hassle of downloading and installing a demo. Presumably (for PC games at least), you'd then hop over to Impulse to make the purchase.
Gamestop says it predicts its digital game sales will reach $1.5 billion by 2014.