On Thursday, e-commerce service provider Digital River announced plans to host and manage Game Agent, a new online service from Aspyr Media that will enable the popular Mac game publisher to sell games online. Mac gamers are curious about the new service, and Aspyr's Karri Scott has answered some questions.
"The most important thing to take note of, I think, is that Gameagent.com and the Game Agent application for Mac are, for now, going to be completely separate entities," said Scott.
Game Agent is the name of a free Mac application that Aspyr distributes from its Web site. The software lets you compare your Mac's specifications (or the specs of a system you're considering to purchase) against the system requirements of games from Aspyr. It also lets you download and install updates to games you already own.
While Game Agent is also what Aspyr is calling its online store, Scott stressed that the online store's capabilities won't be rolled into the application from the start. That's because the store will sell Mac and Windows games, and as it stands right now, Aspyr's Game Agent software is exclusive to the Mac.
As Aspyr president Michael Rogers said when he first floated the idea to do an online store (then called Gamerhood), Aspyr's plan is to sell new releases from the store and older catalog titles that are already out of circulation.
Because of the limited availability of expensive shelf space in retail locations, Aspyr often has to pull from retailers games that still sell in order to make room for new titles. Game Agent will enable them to continue to sell those games to whomever wants them without having to worry about shelf space.
"Right now we're in the process of trying to obtain digital rights to as many older games as we can," said Scott. Scott couldn't provide a count of how many or which games will be available, but she said that Aspyr is hoping to include a number of catalog titles at launch, which should be sometime this summer.
It's been almost two years since Aspyr first announced Gamerhood. Why the name change, and why has it taken so long?
Scott said it was a confluence of events—issues with trademarking the service name, securing a URL and other business-related issues took time and money.
And Aspyr, though growing and successful, is still a relatively small business with a limited amount of resources at their disposal. So programming and QA talent that might have worked on Game Agent was otherwise occupied helping get some of the company's other projects out the door. Now the company is putting the project back into high gear.
Aspyr's launch of Game Agent this summer will be restricted specifically to North American users. Aspyr hopes later to expand distribution worldwide, said Scott.
Aspyr expects to make more announcements in the coming weeks to explain how the service will work and what titles will be available.