Citing “people with knowledge of the matter”, Bloomberg is reporting that several major U.S. cable companies are planning to expand into the video game market by providing cloud gaming services as early as next year.
According to the report, AT&T, Verizon Communications and Time Warner Cable are all planning to start testing the technology later this year, and may launch full-scale cloud gaming services in 2013. Additionally, Comcast Corp and Cox Communications are reported to be planning similar moves for 2014.
The carriers are said to be using streaming technology provided by Playcast Media Systems, CiiNOW and Agawi (which have all admitted to being in talks with U.S. cable companies) to bring both social games and titles from large third-party publishers like Electronic Arts to their subscribers.
With Onlive’s failure earlier this year, it is unclear just how successful the cable companies will be with this push into cloud gaming. However, they will almost certainly be more successful in the space due to their existing subscriber base and (more importantly) much deeper pockets.
If the streaming services do catch on with consumers, it could prove to be major competition for the speculated 2013 launch of Microsoft and Sony’s next generation consoles and Nintendo’s upcoming Wii U. The three major platform holder’s saving grace would be their exclusive first-party titles (which would not be available on the cable company’s cloud gaming service), and possibly whatever Sony is planning to do with their Gaikai acquisition.
My guess is that the majority of gamers are still not interested in purchasing games over streaming services, but it will certainly be interesting to see how all of this plays out over the next couple of years.