You might recall that back in early September GameStop released a few details on their upcoming gaming tablet. It was supposed to be branded by GameStop and be made by a major manufacturer. I posted on that story, and it turns out much of what I wrote was wrong. That's okay with me; much of what GameStop said last month was also wrong.
The "GameStop branded tablet" isn't actually carrying a GameStop brand; I know this for a fact because the "GameStop branded tablet" was launched last week, and all 3 tablets are still branded by the original manufacturers.
It was a little disappointing to find out how much was wrong about last month's story, but I was still curious about how GameStop was handling the bundled games, retail packaging, and so on. I couldn't find the info online so I visited my local GameStop store. One of the 3 in my area (they're within walking distance of each other) had the tablets on display and in stock.
The 3 tablets are the base models for the Acer A100 (7", 8GB), Asus eeePad Transformer (10", 16GB), and the Samsung Galaxy Pad 10.1 (16GB). So far as I can tell the tablets are identical to ones sold elsewhere; they have the same hardware specs and come in the same retail box (I saw them). The only difference is that the ones sold by GameStop have 7 free games already loaded onto the Flash storage. They also have an extra sticker on the box reminding you about the free content.
Most importantly, these 3 tablets don't cost any more than the regular retail price (same as Best Buy, Walmart, etc). While you can find them somewhat cheaper online, the 7 free games make up for the difference.
I don't care for gaming, and I'm not in the market for a new tablet. But if I were going to get a tablet I would definitely get one from GameStop. I might not like any of the those 7 free games but free is free.
This was not the move I expected from GameStop, but this is also a much better idea than the plans discussed last month. I'd get one of these tablets because they are the standard retail product and thus I can check online reviews and count on the standard manufacturer's warranty. If they had been completely rebranded by GameStop then I likely wouldn't want one; they'd be unknown hardware and thus a greater risk.
What GameStop have done here isn't just to get more gaming customers into their stores; instead they will be taking tablets customers away from BB, Walmart, and other retailers with the bundle offers. This includes casual gamers, a group that is far larger than GameStop's core customer base. And that is why this was such a smart move.
It looks like GameStop may have just kicked off a new price war for tablets. It won't be long before someone else responds to GameStop by launching their own bundle. Things could get really interesting by Christmas.