There’s not been much news about BlueStack’s Android-based GamePop unconsole for a while, but now the company is coming out with a bang.
It’s just announced a $13 million VC round, bringing its total funding to $26 million.
And equally significant is that the lead funder was Samsung Ventures.
Mobile games get bigger
“The size of the mobile gaming market, combined with the unique technology BlueStacks has developed for these games to run smoothly on TV made this an easy choice for us,” said Ilseok Yoon, Vice President at Samsung Ventures.
“The control mechanic they have developed for mobile gaming on TV makes it feel like the games were developed for TV in the first place. It’s very impressive.”
Existing investors including the likes of Qualcomm, AMD, Andreessen-Horowitz, Qualcomm, Intel, and Ignition Partners also participated.
Of course, it should be pointed out that Samsung Ventures’ involvement doesn’t necessarily mean the involvement of Samsung itself, but nevertheless this is clearly a big win for the Ouya/GameStick competitor.
Devil and the details
There are still unanswered questions about GamePop, however.
For one thing, there’s some debate about when the hardware will ship.
It’s still expected to be ‘sometime before the end of 2014’, but given the company says that it’s radically changed its design from a cube to something that’s “the size of your thumb” - this suggest the only option available will now be the GamePop Mini device - it’s clearly a fluid situation.
Similarly, BlueStacks says that it’s no longer handling distribution of the hardware but that this will now be undertaken via “large cable companies”, the biggest of which will be announced “soon”.
Again, more known unknowns.
But, we do have some knowns.
For one thing, BlueStacks has been running its white label mobile app and games virtualisation platform for Windows and Mac for a number of years. It claims 100 million users of its various services.
Similarly, GamePop also has support from a large number of game companies ranging from Ubisoft, Warner Bros and Halfbrick to Glu Mobile, GREE, TinyCo and Creative Mobile. Partly this because you don’t have to radically change mobile games to get them to run on BlueStack’s platform.
However, the rub is consumers get the GamePop hardware for free, paying a monthly price of $6.99 for an all-you-can eat subscription service, and they have to have a compatible smart TV, running Android or Linux.
It’s these issues that presumably has seen BlueStacks moving from its original direct relationship with its consumers to partnering with cable companies, even though this will restrict the number of countries the service will be available in, and put off for users who prefer the simpler approach of buying hardware upfront without a subscription.