updated 02:15 pm EDT, Fri October 28, 2011
GameStop takes tablet pilot program live
GameStop's mobile plans became real Friday after the company started up a tablet test program to sell tablets online and in stores. Android tablets like Acer's Iconia Tab A100, ASUS' Eee Pad Transformer, and Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 will be available in 200 of its stores. Each will have both access to Kongregate's Arcade app store as well as seven free games, including EA's mobile versions of Dead Space and Madden as well as Sega's Sonic CD.
Prices are identical to the regular versions and start at $329 for the 8GB Iconia Tab, stepping up to $399 for a 16GB Eee Pad Transformer and $499 for a 16GB Galaxy Tab 10.1. Each can ship in a bundle that includes a Bluetooth gamepad to simplify games that can use non-touch controls.
The company expects to widen the reach to more stores in 2012 if the test run is successful.
Tablets for GameStop, combined with its existing PC-based gaming service, are hedges against the chain's possible obsolescence in gaming. Sales are increasingly moving away both from traditional physical copies as well as from dedicated handhelds like the 3DS or PSP and towards smartphones and tablets. With a chain of 6,500-plus stores just in the US, the company has to either justify them with more than just its signature trade-ins or risk having to close some of them.
Choosing Android carries a great risk. Android is popular among phones in the US but has a low and possibly shrinking market share. Game selection on Android is already considerably lower than it is on iOS and is only lower on Android tablets, where few actively support the screen size and where Google has usually done little to highlight tablet-native apps. [via Dow Jones]