BlueStacks, developer of the self-named Android emulator, has announced the Gamepop Mini, an Android-based gaming console that plays iOS games. Pre-orders for the Gamepop Mini, as well as the Gamepop, a full-sized version of the console, are currently being accepted.
While it has been reported that the Gamepop Mini is free, that's misleading. Sure, it's free to pick one up, but it is a subscription-based product. You'll have to cough up $6.99 a month in order to use the Gamepop Mini. That isn't much, but it's far from free.
Details on the Gamepop Mini are scant, but there will be no contractual obligations. We do know that the Gamepop Mini will be pretty tiny. Check out a photo below.
The larger cube next to the much smaller Gamepop mini is the full size Gamepop. Both will be able to run iOS games on your TV. The main difference between the two is that the larger Gamepop will feature ports and support for more peripherals. Also, the Gamepop won't be free; it'll run you $129 plus the $6.99 monthly rate.
The Gamepop and Gamepop Mini represent two more options in an increasing wave of alternative gaming consoles. Ouya, the $99 Android-based gaming console, hit the market on June 25 and sold out quickly at Amazon. This month, the Nvidia Shield, an Android-based portable gaming console, will be released as well. The Shield was to be released last month, but was delayed due to hardware issues according to Nvidia.
It'll be interesting to see whether any or all of these Android-based alternative gaming consoles can take a significant bite out of the gaming marketshare pie that is currently dominated by Microsoft and Sony. Both companies will be releasing next-gen gaming consoles likely before the year is out. Release dates for the Xbox One and PS4 have not been confirmed, but both are expected to be released sometime this coming holiday season, likely before Black Friday, which is the busiest shopping day of the year.
Exact release dates for the Gamepop and Gamepop Mini have yet to be announced as well, though BlueStacks expects that both will hit the market this winter. That could mean late 2013 or early 2014.
What do you think of the Gamepop and Gamepop Mini? Will you or would you be interested in buying either console? Why or why not? Sound off in the comments below.