If you are an Android gaming fan, you most probably would have heard of Ouya, GameStick and probably even NVIDIA Shield. If you are a fan of this *ahem* great blog, you would probably be aware of the Madcatz M.O.J.O as well. Now you can add GamePop to the list.
GamePop is a new Android powered gaming console from BlueStacks. The name may sound familiar to you because BlueStacks is also the company behind BlueStacks App Player. The app allows users to run Android apps on Windows PC or Mac. The GamePop is their first foray into a hardware product.
Like the Ouya, GameStick and M.O.J.O., it plugs into your TV via HDMI and you play using either a customized controller or via the touchscreen on a paired Android or iOS device. However, the feature that makes the GamePop different is that it runs on a subscription model. For $6.99 a month, you get unlimited access to the what is expected to be 500+ game titles and apps. According to BlueStacks, the total value of the 500+ apps is over $200 and more games and apps will be constantly added to the library.
As an added incentive, if you pre-order the GamePop before the end of June, you will get the GamePop console and the controller for free. If the sub-$100 price of the Ouya and GameStick (pricing for the M.O.J.O. has not been announced yet) did not appeal to you, maybe free will. After the June deadline, the GamePop is expected to sell for $129.
However, before you whip out your credit card and rush to the GamePop website to pre-order, there are a few things that you should be aware of.
First of all, you need to remain as a GamePop subscriber for at least a year. Should you decide to terminate before the one year is up, you need to return both the console and controller in working order plus pay a $25 restocking fee. Should you fail to do so, you will be charged a $100 early termination fee.
Secondly, the design of the GamePop looks a lot like the Boxee but no details have been provided so far on the actual hardware itself. GamePop mentions on their FAQ that “all games will run as fast or faster than they do on a top mobile phone.” I’m purely speculating here but given the $100 early termination fee, the hardware should cost roughly about that and therefore it should have similar specs to the Ouya and GameStick. That probably means a dual core processor with 1 or possibly 2 GB of RAM. However, since the GamePop is only expected to be available at the end of the year, perhaps they can even squeeze in a quad-core chip like the Rockchip RK3188 or the Allwinner A31. Current quad-core Android TV sticks cost around $100 without a controller thrown in but prices should drop significantly by year-end. Besides the hardware specification of the console itself, there is also no detail on how the controller looks like as well.
Thirdly, BlueStacks has not officially announced the games and apps in the GamePop’s library. In an interview, BlueStacks CEO Rosen Sharma says that they are working with Google to add the Google Play store library to the GamePop library. Personally, I doubt that this will happen as it would mean big changes to the current agreements that Google currently has with all the Google Play developers. On the other hand, with critical mass, it could be a possibility but not in the GamePop’s early life. Without knowing what kind of games and apps that you will eventually get, early adopters will need to take a huge leap of faith with the GamePop.
At $6.99 a month, or $84 for a full year subscription (plus another $10 for shipping in the US or $20 for international shipping), it is not a huge gamble. If you have not jumped on board with any of the other Android consoles, the GamePop might be worth the gamble.