GameStop buys Impulse, Spawn Labs

GameStop has made more big steps into the digital realm, buying Stardock's digital distribution platform and a cloud gaming company.

32

Bricks-and-mortar retail monster GameStop took further bold stops into the realm of the virtual today, announcing that it's acquiring Stardock's digital distribution platform Impulse, as well as cloud gaming company Spawn Labs.

Impulse will continue to run, becoming integrated into GameStop's online store. The deal is due to close in May and full Impulse integration is expected "within the next few months." Financial details of the deal have not been disclosed.

Spawn Labs has cloud gaming technology somewhat similar to OnLive and Gaikai, allowing users to play games without actually running them on their computer. However, Spawn's tech runs games from the player's own games console, meaning they can play their Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 games remotely on a simple laptop. It also enables handy things such as watching, from your computer, a chum playing games on their console, or playing your console games on your PC in your room when your flatmate's hogging the big telly.

Stardock notes that it's only the Impulse, Inc. division being sold, and the rest of Stardock will carry on as per usual. Key Impulse staff will remain with Impulse, Inc. while shared employees will be absorbed into other Stardock projects. Stardock doesn't anticipate any layoffs, and is in fact still hiring.

The Spawn Labs team "will work closely with GameStop's existing R&D group to develop GameStop's growing suite of digital game products and services," GameStop says. It seems they may be looking to move beyond the tech's current use, perhaps more into the realm of OnLive and on-demand gaming. The announcement says that "Once the Spawn Labs integration and testing on a new consumer interface is complete, users will have immediate access to a wide selection of high-definition video games on demand on any Internet-enabled device."

These are far from GameStop's first steps into the digital world. Its online store already offers a small selection of digital game downloads, and the company has a number of online interests including hugely popular Flash games portal Kongregate and browser gaming site Jolt.

The acquisition of Impulse will give GameStop a friendly front and client for its digital distribution, as well as a large library of games. Stardock's Steamworks competitor Impulse Reactor is included in the deal, a suite of tools for developers and publishers handling DRM, microtransactions, achievements, friends lists and the like. It's not beyond the realms of imagination that GameStop might use its retail muscle to gently persuade publishers to create special versions of digital releases with Impulse Reactor features.

"Our customers are gaming in many locations and on many devices, and we need to deliver the same great immersive experience that they have come to expect," said GameStop President Tony Bartel in today's announcement.

GameStop CEO J. Paul Raines added, "With these important acquisitions, we will continue to make appropriate investments related to our multichannel strategy. GameStop is uniquely positioned to be the leader in both the physical and digital gaming space."

Should retail up and vanish tomorrow, it seems that, for better or worse, GameStop will still be around in some form.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    March 31, 2011 5:10 PM

    Comment on GameStop buys Impulse, Spawn Labs, by Alice O'Connor.

    • reply
      March 31, 2011 5:13 PM

      Summary: are you one of those people who gleefully exclaim that GameStop will die along with retail? You won't like this. They've picked up Stardock's digital distribution platform Impulse, and a cloud gaming service that lets you play console games remotely.

      • reply
        March 31, 2011 5:21 PM

        A not-so-summarized summary.

      • reply
        March 31, 2011 5:26 PM

        Yea still sticking with steam.

      • reply
        March 31, 2011 7:22 PM

        So. Can I return my used PC games to them for pennies on the dollar and then buy something $5 over regular retail. Asshats.

    • reply
      March 31, 2011 5:26 PM

      Im more interested to know why Stardock would sell Impulse?

      • reply
        March 31, 2011 5:27 PM

        Money.

      • reply
        March 31, 2011 5:28 PM

        recoup as much as possible from a worthless platform?

      • reply
        March 31, 2011 5:28 PM

        This. This is very strange, i wonder how this is going to work with all the games that are Impulse exclusive from stardock.

      • reply
        March 31, 2011 5:28 PM

        Maybe they'd rather not sink the money into maintaining it. I don't know if it's profitable on its own or not, but I imagine that running a digital game distribution service and developing for it costs a lot of money and person-hours.

        • reply
          March 31, 2011 8:01 PM

          It was very profitable, but to maintain its growth they'd have to focus exclusively on it instead of the other things Stardock does.

        • reply
          March 31, 2011 8:28 PM

          I don't hate Gamestop like everyone but I don't love them either, I hope this doesn't screw over my Impulse account, which I did a decent job supporting because I liked Stardock titles.

          • reply
            March 31, 2011 8:35 PM

            Considering GameStop was long considered a company who was disinterested in the PC and maybe even interested in killing it off (it has no used game market, after all) this actually might be a very good sign. It says they recognize that there's money to be made in the PC market and that they want in.

      • reply
        March 31, 2011 6:14 PM

        I want to know this as well honestly. I was sure this was some elaborate early april fools joke, but everyone is reporting it, which is making me believe it isn't. It is so strange to sell the one part that was working well for stardock. It would be akin to an announcement of MS buying Steam from Valve and integrating it with their games for windows live store. Really confusing when Brad has been working to pull himself into a ceo-ship state at the company instead of sticking to the hands-on that he was doing prior.

      • reply
        March 31, 2011 6:17 PM

        Cause Elemental bombed so hard it left a crater.

        • reply
          March 31, 2011 6:18 PM

          If this is true then Stardock's future is gloomy. They will have another bomb at some point. Your product line can't be an unbroken line of back to back hits. There will be misses.

          • reply
            March 31, 2011 8:24 PM

            Pretty sure Demigod didn't blow the doors off either.

      • reply
        March 31, 2011 9:09 PM

        april fools?

        • reply
          April 1, 2011 1:44 AM

          Yeah, I'm wondering about this now.

          • reply
            April 1, 2011 4:35 AM

            Gamestop is publicly traded company. Stuff like this would play into stock prices so I doubt it is an April Fools joke.

            • reply
              April 1, 2011 4:53 AM

              I guess a better question would be why announce it right now as opposed to, say, a week from now when people won't question if it's an April Fools joke

      • reply
        April 1, 2011 4:24 AM

        I don't think Brad Wardell wants to run a big company. He wants to make games and the bigger your company, the less time he'll have to devote to that. Probably that is the reason Elemental blew so hard was because he couldn't focus his attention on one thing.

    • reply
      March 31, 2011 5:28 PM

      FUUUUUUUUUU

    • reply
      March 31, 2011 5:29 PM

      Shit. I knew I shouldn't have bought ME2 on Impulse. Why did I do that? Now my game belongs to Gamestop.

      • reply
        March 31, 2011 5:53 PM

        You can probably use the game key you got with EA's own download manager. It's no Steam, but nor is it Gamestop.

    • reply
      March 31, 2011 5:35 PM

      i already avoid both impulse/stardock and gamestop religiously, now its like one-stop-non-shopping.

    • reply
      March 31, 2011 5:36 PM

      how funny would it have been if GameStop bought Steam instead.

      • reply
        March 31, 2011 5:36 PM

        ELEVENTY BILLION DOLLARS

      • reply
        March 31, 2011 5:38 PM

        [deleted]

      • reply
        March 31, 2011 5:39 PM

        If Valve could resist takeover attempts from Microsoft, they could probably shrug off attempts from Gamestop. I think it's more about commitment to the platform; Valve's very committed, while Stardock wasn't.

        • reply
          March 31, 2011 10:33 PM

          I believe that Gabe's already said that he would sell, given a serious offer.

          • reply
            April 1, 2011 8:51 PM

            No, he said that he would put it "under consideration" if he received a serious offer, not that he would definitely sell.

            And he made that statement several years ago, long before Steam became the behemoth that it is now.

      • reply
        March 31, 2011 5:42 PM

        I would quite gaming and take up knitting.

    • reply
      March 31, 2011 5:37 PM

      Will GameStop start buying/selling used games via Impulse?

    • reply
      March 31, 2011 5:42 PM

      Great. So we're going from Impulse and Stardock where they only kind of hate their customers and act like passive aggressive douche bags, to GameStop where they hate their customers with the force of a thousand burning suns.

    • reply
      March 31, 2011 5:42 PM

      It gives a whole new meaning to "Weekend Impulse buys"...

    • reply
      March 31, 2011 5:45 PM

      When will EA and bioware give up their worthless storefronts and annoying accounts? Same for Ubisoft and their uplay system.

      • reply
        March 31, 2011 5:49 PM

        Never. They don't know how to handle this stuff.

        • reply
          March 31, 2011 5:51 PM

          Plus they think they're the gaming equivalent of Facebook, and not an annoying obstacle to gameplay.

      • reply
        March 31, 2011 5:50 PM

        I hate uplay.

        • reply
          March 31, 2011 6:13 PM

          It's fucking worthless. It's like Ubisoft wants its own little corner of Xbox Live or PSN or Steam but they've got no idea what that entails or how to not make it a hassle/bother to use. I do NOT need another account/login.

    • reply
      March 31, 2011 5:49 PM

      Does this mean we'll eventually see Stardock games on Steam? That would both annoy and please me as I have bought all Stardock games on Impulse assuming they'll never come to Steam, but I would also ideally have all games on one platform. I just don't want to have to rebuy my games.

    • reply
      March 31, 2011 6:01 PM

      and nothing of value was lost

    • reply
      March 31, 2011 6:10 PM

      I'm very pleased with this. It's good for Stardock because then can focus their efforts on game development and release their titles on Steam. It's good for Impulse because they can finally have the funding to improve and rival Steam. Competition in this market is good. I'm not going to jump to any conclusions about how Gamestop will run Impulse. Retail and digital are two completely separate business models.

      • reply
        March 31, 2011 6:15 PM

        You don't think the extra money/revenue, small as it may be from Impusle, was a good source of extra cash that could be relied upon to fund game development and mitigate risk? I want to know if Stardock did this because of Elemental's sales.

        • reply
          April 1, 2011 3:48 AM

          I suspect the yearly revenue was dwarfed by Gamestops offer...otherwise selling would've been pointless.

    • reply
      March 31, 2011 6:12 PM

      Spawn labs has a great product. Not sure how this will pan out

    • reply
      March 31, 2011 7:09 PM

      NO! NO! NO! NO! GamesStop! You betray us PC Gamers and now you want to F%$( our Digital Distribution! F%$( YOU! Mo%$(# Fu$#(er

    • reply
      March 31, 2011 7:20 PM

      smart move on Gamestops part. Used game sales will be a thing of the past come next generation of consoles. They are now at about the same point that Blockbuster was when it was faced with companies like Netflix and Redbox. Blockbuster didn't do shit but at least Gamestop recognizes the changes that are afoot.

      • reply
        March 31, 2011 8:59 PM

        Blockbuster came out with a Netflix clone when Netflix became competitive.

        Blockbuster has a Redbox clone now that Redbox is competitive.

        Blockbuster has a thing where for a flat monthly fee you can leverage your membership across their stores or their Netflix. You can rent through the mail and return to the store.

        Blockbuster has a complete end-to-end solution.

        Blockbuster's problem is that Netflix and Redbox have first mover advantage and people like them. No one likes Blockbuster. Blockbuster is going to die because of their past sins.

        • reply
          March 31, 2011 9:53 PM

          Gamers must be too stupid to realize Gamestop's past and current sins to let them die.

          • reply
            March 31, 2011 10:17 PM

            GameStop has probably never been a problem to the average gamer. GameStop has never leveed a late fee on them, for starters.

            • reply
              March 31, 2011 11:17 PM

              I'm the elitist gamer in my circle of friends, also the only PC literate, they all love gamestop, and don't understand how theres anything wrong with them

              • reply
                April 1, 2011 5:00 AM

                If you think about it all of the GameStop things that piss us off:

                - Pestering you to sell used games to them
                - Pestering you to buy used games from them
                - Pestering you to preorder games
                - Loud crazy videos in the store on upcoming games

                Are all the sorts of things that appeal to non-serious gamers. I'm not talking casual, I-only-play-Peggle gamers, I'm talking the people for whom gaming really is just a sideline hobby. They buy Madden or whatever game they're really into, they buy the movie tie-in games when they come out, and they get whatever enjoyment they want out of them and move on. They don't analyze game theory, they don't get stressed about DLC or retailer exclusives, and they probably only have a vague idea of who makes the games - they sure as hell don't keep up with who is going out of business and doing layoffs.

                They see used games as a great way to save $5 or whatever. They sell back whatever they're done with to get store credit for whatever they want. They put down $10 to preorder WWF MonkeyFucker or whatever the latest wrestling game is because they're scared it will sell out on release day and they call every day to see if it's out yet because they have no idea how to use the Internet to look up such a thing (can you tell I worked at one of these in the 90's?).

                Sometimes I wonder if I'd enjoy gaming more if I was more like them. It's like the old saying - if you gave a sports car to someone who loves cars and told him he could drive it he would be thrilled. If you told him he had to drive it every day and you paid him for it, then it becomes a job and he'd come to hate it. Sometimes I wonder if I enjoyed gaming more back when I didn't know anything about it.

          • reply
            April 1, 2011 1:50 AM

            Gamestop is hands down the best retail store to buy a game at in my experience. I can't imagine why anyone would shop elsewhere. Best selection, can pre-order anything and guarantee it on release day, I can get all other accessories I need, and the stores are much smaller and easier to navigate, generally with staff that know what the fuck.

            I'll take GS over Best Buy, Walmart, Target, or anything else of that nature.

            • reply
              April 1, 2011 4:07 AM

              I've seen plenty of people pre-order games or other stuff from ebgames and they didn't get their copy on release day because they had not received enough. They just went to future shop or best buy instead (except for consoles which were sold out everywhere).

        • reply
          March 31, 2011 11:53 PM

          Blockbuster is going to die are dead.

          • reply
            April 1, 2011 4:47 AM

            No but they're in the wheelbarrow bitching at this point

    • reply
      March 31, 2011 8:02 PM

      aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa;

    • reply
      March 31, 2011 8:24 PM

      Upon further thought, I think this is great news. This move by Gamestop was inevitable. They would literally have to be brain dead not to do so. And Impulse is probably the most benign service out there, in many ways topping steam in terms of being ignorable. Plus, in this Steam gets the best competitor they could realistically ask for. Then again, Steam is kind of so good that it doesn't need actual threatening competitive pressure to self-improve.

      • reply
        March 31, 2011 10:59 PM

        it'll need it to keep moving when gabe has that inevitable heart attack.

    • reply
      March 31, 2011 11:42 PM

      I guess last year's debacle with that game that came out as crap finally caught up to ol' Stardock. I kinda knew this would happen. Stardock, for all its bluster, just wasn't doing well with this thing compared to the big boys (ie., Steam, IGN/D2D, Live, and even EAstore). Hell, I like GMG better than I like Impulse.

      However, this does have grave implications on Impulse Reactor tech getting shoved into games in the future, assuming Gamestop ever prioritizes PC games in their retail stores again. If they don't, then Steam'll go right on raking in the cash. But if GS is smart and uses their retail stores as additional pressure to get publishers on board with Impulse tech to gain additional shelf space in physical stores, you might well see them shuffle on over to the GS way of things. That would suck. I hate Impulse's crap. Steam's just better. That might well remove some of the clout that compels publishers to agree to Steam sales...

      As for the other tech, Spawn Labs sounded like it had my dream tech and now GS is going to me too OnLive with it. What a shame. People just don't have the ISP connections to warrant a full OnLive push currently. Hell, Netflix just had to downgrade Canadian connections (by default) to help them cope with their caps. How long before US follows in having smaller and smaller caps? As our caps get smaller, our ability to use online streaming of any kind is going to suffer and that'll include Netflix and OnLive. That is, unless our government decides to throw off the shackles of the piles and piles of cash they get from doing whatever the Corporate shills demand of them to actually protect consumer interests with regards to online information exchange. I highly doubt it, though.

      Meanwhile, having the ability to stream gaming from one device (consoles, even PC's) to other thinner, cooler, cheaper devices would ACTUALLY have had a lot of great uses. Imagine you could buy ONE super computer gaming monstrosity and pour all your money into making it as awesome as gaming PC'ly possible. Then, you buy a thin and light laptop to take with you all around your house, have your gaming PC serve your games to your thin and light that doesn't have the GPU to play Far Cry, let alone Crysis. (Crysis 2 is inferior to Crysis.) Then you buy a thin HTPC for every TV in your house.

      The Gaming Server. You buy just one and it serves the entire house, removing the need for consoles in one fell swoop. In time, you could stream your games out of your house and to computers on the road when you're away from home. You could stream games to your tablet or your phone. You could stream games to other people's computers when you enter your login to connect.

      Anywhere you can find a device capable of supporting the video, audio, and interface encode at acceptable framerates with online access, there is where you could game.

      Instead, GS buys them out to crap out an OnLive copy. Wow, can they lack imagination? I have hope that in time Steam'll do what I'm describing. They're forward thinking.

      • reply
        April 1, 2011 3:59 AM

        What did you hate about impulse so much? I've never had a problem with it and it is a lot less intrusive then steam is.

    • reply
      March 31, 2011 11:54 PM

      So maybe Sins Retribution on Steam? Please?

    • reply
      April 1, 2011 1:58 AM

      I wonder if Stardock now will stay loyal to that platform. I bet they would make more money if they sold their games steam as well.

    • reply
      April 1, 2011 4:40 AM

      Woah! So is Impulse going to get DRM?

    • reply
      April 1, 2011 4:50 AM

      I welcome this if this means Gamestop develops a new pc focus and we start seeing games ported on the platform that weren't before.

    • reply
      April 1, 2011 6:01 AM

      Ugh, I'm glad I only have 2 games tied to my Impulse account. Smart business move but I hate Gamestop.

    • reply
      April 1, 2011 6:52 AM

      I only buy downloadable games from GoG and Steam. The alternatives(like Impulse and EA) just never gained my full confidence.

    • reply
      April 1, 2011 8:53 AM

      Well, I WAS going to pre-order the Sins of a Solar Empire Expansion, but now I'm reluctant to. I've avoided Gamestop as much as possible, and now that they will have Impulse at their online store they can tax the shit out of customers when they buy a game.

    • reply
      April 1, 2011 4:57 PM

      2011: GameStop adds DRM to all Impulse games
      2012: GameStop announces Impulse to end after sales not as expected.

      • reply
        April 2, 2011 5:53 AM

        2012: Gamestop links poor sales to piracy

Hello, Meet Lola