With all the major game consoles repositioning themselves to become platforms for the next generation of television, some major cable TV service providers are turning their attention to gaming.
Rumors peg Verizon, AT&T, and Time Warner as working on a way to deliver cloud-based games to their cable TV subscribers by 2013, according to a Bloomberg report.
Presumably, the early games offered via cable providers will be more of the social/casual variety, such as Angry Birds, Tetris, solitaire, and such. However, the report indicates that at least two other big cable companies — Cox and Comcast — want to roll out a full subscription service that would provide access to more advanced games by 2014.
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For years, consoles like Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3 have been focusing on becoming a place people go to watch movies, sporting events, TV shows, and listen to music — not just a place to play games. Both consoles provide access to popular streaming media services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime. More recently, Nintendo announced its plans to expand into video content with its own streaming TV service for the Wii U. Not only that, but Xbox has deals to provide OnDemand video service with a handful of cable TV providers, while PlayStation is currently partnering with DirecTV to provide contract-free access to NFL Sunday Ticket programming.
The reason game consoles have been relatively successful in luring people to watch video has more to do with most cable providers’ inability to offer a video service that’s up to par with modern standards (easy user interface, vast library of content, multiplatform support for mobile devices, and so on). And while most cable companies probably know this, it would cost more money than it would make by doing nothing. This wouldn’t be true if cable providers started offering cloud-based games via cable boxes because it would present a new form of revenue.
If the rumors are true, the cable providers would most likely need to upgrade their current hardware to handle games, meaning a new cable box and motion sensor remote controls that can double as a TV remote. Cable providers would also need to lure game developers to these services.
It’s also possible that cable providers could simply team up with a third-party gaming service, which would provide a much easier entrance into the gaming space. Both Playcast Media and CiiNow have been in discussions to partner with big cable or telecom companies, as VentureBeat previously reported.