GameStop acquires Spawn Labs and Impulse

By on April 1, 2011, 10:03 AM
GameStop has announced the acquisition of Spawn Labs, a streaming technology company, and Impulse, a subsidiary of Stardock Systems and a leader in digital distribution (think alternative to Steam). The Impulse acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in May 2011.

The Spawn Labs team will use its game streaming and virtualization expertise to work closely with GameStop's existing R&D group to develop GameStop's growing suite of digital game products and services. Once the Spawn Labs integration and testing on a new consumer interface is complete, users will have immediate access to a wide selection of HD video games on demand on any Internet-enabled device.

Impulse provides a proven digital distribution platform that allows users to quickly and easily find their favorite games and download them to their Internet-connected devices. Going forward, Impulse will remain an actively running business with full integration on GameStop.com anticipated within the next few months. It will offer three specific components to users, developers, and publishers:

  • Impulse::Client allows gamers to have instant access to a library of more than 1,100 games on day one as well as the ability to manage their game-related downloads and purchases.
  • Impulse::Reactor- provides content publishers customer friendly DRM and copy protection tools. It also allows developers to enable achievements, account management, friend lists, chat, multiplayer lobbies, and cloud storage within their games.
  • Impulse::Publisher- allows publishers to manage all aspects of their game with powerful real-time reporting and management tools.

This is a smart move from GameStop. The company realizes that brick and mortar stores as well as typical online shopping are not the future. It could have done so sooner, but better late than never: entering the streaming and digital distribution markets now will set the retail chain apart from the competition.

"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," GameStop President Tony Bartel said in a statement. "Spawn Labs and Impulse provide a customer-friendly and publisher-friendly way for us to accomplish this."




User Comments: 12

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Raswan Raswan said:

Smart move GameStop. Surprised you did it at this point, and even more surprised BB didn't try to beat you to it.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Considering Gamestop's majority focus in consoles, have to wonder if they can get the Impulse distribution model working on those as well. It might eat at their sell/resell model, but as digital delivery becomes more popular, they are going to lose money there anyhow. Wouldn't hurt to be leading the pack and generating revenue from it, rather than being slowly devoured by the pack. All depends on just how forward-thinking they are, I suppose.

Raswan Raswan said:

Vrmithrax said:

Considering Gamestop's majority focus in consoles, have to wonder if they can get the Impulse distribution model working on those as well. It might eat at their sell/resell model, but as digital delivery becomes more popular, they are going to lose money there anyhow. Wouldn't hurt to be leading the pack and generating revenue from it, rather than being slowly devoured by the pack. All depends on just how forward-thinking they are, I suppose.

Agreed. If anything is clear from Steam's success over the last year, especially, it is that digital delivery is going to be a major player in the future. Wouldn't be surprised to see most pc and console manufacturers, as wireless continues to grow in presence, strength, and reliability, to become mainly digital in the next 5 years. For all of the cloud's other shortcomings, it sure is nice to be able to play your games/chars on any console or pc.

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Looks like GameStop finally took its head out of the sand which is great for them, however I am shocked that Impulse would be the one to sell itself. It's one of the best digital distributors out on the market that looks out for the customers first. I hope this doesn't change down the line as GameStop is by no means a friend of consumers or even PC gamers. The only good I can see coming of this is a wider selection of games on Impulse with better sales as Gamestop carries way more clout than Stardock.

TekGun TekGun said:

Relic said:

Looks like GameStop finally took its head out of the sand which is great for them, however I am shocked that Impulse would be the one to sell itself. It's one of the best digital distributors out on the market that looks out for the customers first. I hope this doesn't change down the line as GameStop is by no means a friend of consumers or even PC gamers.

This is exactly what I thought, I don't mind having Impluse on my system, I'm not sure I want GameStop on my system though.

madboyv1, TechSpot Paladin, said:

tekgun said:

Relic said:

Looks like GameStop finally took its head out of the sand which is great for them, however I am shocked that Impulse would be the one to sell itself. It's one of the best digital distributors out on the market that looks out for the customers first. I hope this doesn't change down the line as GameStop is by no means a friend of consumers or even PC gamers.

This is exactly what I thought, I don't mind having Impluse on my system, I'm not sure I want GameStop on my system though.

This very much, though I only have "4" games on Impulse, so I am not sure if it will ultimately make a difference for me.

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

Relic - I had to read that first sentence of yours four times before I could force myself to stop subconsciously replacing from where they should remove their heads.

MrAnderson said:

Gamestop really did not need to make a move since they make most of their bucks from resale of games and accessories.

They could wait for others to deveolpe and then buy them out, which is also a rational busines tactic if they are good at managing the integration of assets and employees. Moreover, the fact that many big players... Amazon, Walmart, and Bestbuy are now offering there own buy back business models to cut into their bread and butter does make now a good time to strenthen their relvancy in the digital space as it continues to grow.

IMHO, I still think that digital will dominate in the near future. It truly depends on where game consoles, ISP bandwidth, storage cost and reliability, and user acceptance end up in the next decade. I don't - not - see digital moving forward and the market growing market. Android and other open pc and mobile app market places being a new driving force. If the rumors are right and Windows 8 follows suite with Apple's OSX based App store, this will definitely be the case in further driving not only software, but digital games purchases on services like steam. Hopefully Windows will support a standard for how the apps/games are installed and provide an example to the app store on how to integrate in the Windows environment.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

"Impulse::Publisher- allows publishers to manage all aspects of their game with powerful real-time reporting and management tools."

This makes me think of when Amazon deleted whatever that book was off everyone's Kindle.

treetops treetops said:

I will never shop at gamestop again they would not honor there receipt when I returned a none working game to them. I instead had to go to walmart and pretend I lost the receipt and got my money back no questions asked.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Relic said:

I am shocked that Impulse would be the one to sell itself. It's one of the best digital distributors out on the market that looks out for the customers first.

There's a good chance that Impulse wasn't making lots of money. As a store it's nothing special, and most of the time the reason I hear for buying there is dislike for Steam. I don't think that's good enough to keep a store afloat. I bought a few games there, but I buy orders of magnitude more at Steam, because of the deals.

I hope that under GameStop Impulse will be able to become more competitive.

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

ET3D said:

There's a good chance that Impulse wasn't making lots of money. As a store it's nothing special, and most of the time the reason I hear for buying there is dislike for Steam. I don't think that's good enough to keep a store afloat. I bought a few games there, but I buy orders of magnitude more at Steam, because of the deals.

I hope that under GameStop Impulse will be able to become more competitive.

According to Stardock's 2010 Customer Report, Impulse is the most profitable unit they have by far even though their last game Elemental did so poorly. It appears that Brad Wardell decided it was time to move out of the digital distribution business as he never had any true desire to do it in the first place. There is a good Q&A on Destructoid with Brad about Impulse too, that is a bit more enlightening. Either way I'm still disappointed that Stardock decided to sell Impulse, especially to a company that has such a bad reputation among PC gamers. I guess I'll give GameStop the chance to prove itself first since the Impulse team is still running the show, however any negative policy changes and I'm gone for good.

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