Is this retail’s digital console breakthrough?

We’re told time and time again that retail can play an important part in the digital gaming landscape, but one obstacle has always remained – the iron grip platform holders have over digital console platforms.

But international games retailer GameStop could be about to shatter that stalemate thanks to new plans that would offer a console streaming service for smart devices and net-ready consumer electronics.

This is the first fruit to emerge from GameStop’s acquisition of streaming specialist Spawn Labs last year.

A closed beta is expected to commence before the end of the year with a view to a possible US rollout in the first half of 2012.

"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," GameStop president Tony Bartel stated.

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

"Those conversations are taking place today. 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.”

Of course, the technology itself merely apes that already being implemented by the likes of OnLive and Gaikai. But the idea of a streaming offer that offers and markets console-free digital console gaming would be a significant first – and could me a paradigm-shifting moment in the transition toward cloud gaming.

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