GameStop plans move into digital distribution

One of the world’s largest bricks-and-mortar video game retailers, GameStop is apparently stepping on the toes of one of the world’s largest digital retailers, Steam.

GameStop

Coming to a computer near you!

In what sounded like a slightly-too-early April Fool’s joke, GameStop has confirmed the acquisition of Spawn Labs, a streaming technology company – and has entered into an agreement to pick up Impulse, a subsidiary of Stardock. Impulse, of course, is a leader in digital distribution – the deal is expected to be finalised in May 2011.

Spawn Labs will work on improving and developing GameStop‘s growing collection of digital game products and services. According to statements, the company is already working on a new consumer interface – once that’s done, gamers will have “immediate access” to a whole bunch of high-def video games on demand.

GameStop President Tony Bartel explains:

“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.

“Spawn Labs and Impulse provide a customer-friendly and publisher-friendly way for us to accomplish this.”

Impulse is the interesting one – bringing a proven digital distribution platform to the table, where gamers can “quickly and easily” find favourite games and download them. GameStop CEO J. Paul Raines is a bit pleased:

“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.”

Impulse, by Stardock

One of the major players in digital distribution

…so. This isn’t just dipping a toe into the digital waters, this is a pretty dedicated leap. Impulse is a major player in terms of digital distribution. The service was launched in 2008, as a successor to Stardock‘s earlier efforts, 2001’s Stardock Central. It’s still not as large as Steam, but has an e-commerce pedigree that stretches back several years longer.

GameStop are taking the battle to the internet could be a good thing for competition, or it could just be a case of someone wanting yet another piece of the retail pie.

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