If you’re into mobile gaming and find yourself buying a couple of titles each month, then there’s a service that might be right up your street. GameStore by SnakeByte has launched on Android and offers up hundreds of games for a simple monthly subscription. We’ve spent some time with it and wonder if this is the beginning of the Netflix for games, or a business model that might not capture the imagination.
We’ve spent the last couple of weeks with the new service sampling what it has to offer and figuring out what the pro’s and con’s are. Let’s start with the bad… there isn’t any that we’ve found. Seriously. Taking the service in isolation the sign up process is painless and the app installation is straightforward after you’ve given it the right permissions (it’s not hosted on the Play Store directly so you’ll need to enable 3rd party app access – which it guides you through). Once GameStore is on your chosen device it really is a simple case of browse, click and download.
With all the games split into categories to make it easier to track down what you want, it doesn’t make finding something suitable a chore. The search option available is also quick and responsive enough to work on full titles or partial keywords. As a standalone app it’s straight forward, easy to navigate and does exactly what you want it to do. There aren’t many other pro’s to list about the interface itself, what you really want to know about is what the games are like.
With the whole point of GameStore being to give you a massive amount of choice in how to pass the time it doesn’t disappoint. After just 5 minutes browsing we’d set several games downloading from the in-app Play Store and were ready to see what they were like. Every title is free, without ads and the full version of the game, and each is run directly from the install on your device – there’s no launching GameStore first to access them. For all intents and purposes there is no difference between these games and any you’d get directly from Google. With publishers like Square Enix and Bandai Namco onboard there are some well known ones to pick from: Hitman GO, Tomb Raider, Pacman (and several variants); as well as some unexpected gems like Colin McRae Rally and World of Goo. Of course, there’s some filler, but there’s enough of the top quality games to keep you occupied for a while.
The only thing that we struggled to fully understand is exactly who the market for the service is. It’s not a reflection on what’s available in GameStore or the principle behind the service, it’s just that we’re not big mobile gamers so paying a fee each month doesn’t appeal. That’s where the no contract side of things comes in we suppose – if you’ve played through everything you want then you can always skip a couple of months and come back when a raft of new games have been added. With new publishers buying into the model then there should be a decent and regular intake. We’ve seen a fair amount during the first couple of weeks and hopefully there’ll be enough momentum to keep that going.
It’s an intriguing premise and one that we’ve not seen anywhere else in the mobile market. Sure, there are game streaming services already, but the advantage with GameStore is that most titles don’t need an online connection once they’re in place. The comparison to Netflix is still the most appropriate though. It’s drop in/drop out at a relatively low cost and works very well from what we’ve experienced. If you’re spending more than £5 a month on games for your phone then definitely give this a shot instead.
GameStore is currently exclusive to Google’s Play Store and you can subscribe for around £4/$5 a month netting you access to an ever expanding catalogue of mobile titles. A 30 day access pass was provided by SnakeByte’s PR team for the purposes of this review. Head over to the website for more details and if you want to try it out there’s a 14 day free trial available.