US cable providers are in talks to provide on-demand gaming to their millions of customers across the country, potentially obsoleting the need for dedicated gaming hardware. Citing "people with knowledge of the matter," Bloomberg reports that AT&T, Verizon, and Time Warner are all said to be beginning trials this year and wider deployments as early as 2013, while Comcast and Cox are still in talks and may not enter the market until 2014.
The companies want to move beyond Tetris and Solitaire
According to Bloomberg, all of the companies named are interested in providing an experience beyond Tetris and Solitaire by offering "advanced action games form top publishers." The technology behind the scenes is said to be provided by startups like CiiNow and Playcast Media, the latter of which recently partnered with Nvidia and networking companies like Cisco and Pace to build gaming-compatible set-top boxes. Some of the network providers are said to be looking at software that would allow smartphones to be used as controllers.
Compared to dedicated gaming services like Gaikai and OnLive, the cable companies would have a number of distinct advantages in the streaming games business, most notably the ability to bundle gaming service into customers’ existing cable bills. However, as OnLive has shown, delivering high-quality video games to customers’ homes is a tricky service to provide in a way that’s profitable. So far, none of the companies named have gone on the record about plans to provide gaming services.