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 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."