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GameStop's console game streaming in early beta

Spawn Labs division working on PS3, Xbox 360 cloud gaming; launch expected middle of 2012

US retailer GameStop is currently beta testing the streaming of PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 games, with a plan to roll-out a consumer service by the middle of next year.

Earlier this year the company bought Spawn Labs, extending its peer-to-peer game streaming service into a cloud gaming offering, and promised "a wide selection of high-definition video games on demand on any internet-enabled device."

Yesterday it revealed that as well as PC game streaming, it is working with publishers to stream console games to smart devices as well as dedicated hardware via the Spawn software client.

"Spawn recently began its first beta and is currently live, testing the streaming of Xbox 360, PS3 and PC games from a data centre in Austin, Texas," confirmed GameStop president Tony Bartel.

The beauty of Spawn is it can take a very large assortment of games. There's really no restriction versus an Xbox 360 and PS3 game.

"We continue to get positive feedback from our publishing partners about the pro-console, low-investment model that we have chosen."

The closed beta will go national before the end of the year. At the beginning of 2012 GameStop is expected to reveal more details about the service and what it offers, along with a pricing model - and a nationwide launch is currently scheduled for the first half of 2012.

The Spawn client will be offered to GameStop's PowerUp Rewards members - currently 12 million customers - and feature a demo service which it's claimed will not require publishers to modify their games.

Cloud gaming technology from Gaikai and OnLive is already proving a viable business, offering PC games and demos over the internet with very little in the way of dedicated hardware beyond the right control method.

Behind closed doors these technologies have also shown format crossover such as World of Warcraft running on an iPad or console and full PC games launching from within Facebook.

And with the growth of Smart and connected TVs, both Gaikai and OnLive are dropping their technology directly into the hardware and consulting on dedicated controllers, taking streaming games straight to the consumer's living room - an area that GameStop is also interested in.

"Those conversations are taking place today," offered Bartel. "There's a whole cadre of services that GameStop can offer far beyond just Spawn. The beauty of Spawn is it can take a very large assortment of games. There's really no restriction versus an Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 game.

"We're also experimenting with PC game delivery as well, but we can take that to any Internet-connected device including TV. So clearly, it's part of our acquisition forethought. We anticipated being involved in smart TVs as well."

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Matt Martin

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Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.

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