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A group of big pay TV operators is gearing up to challenge such video game consoles as Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 3, Microsoft’s XBox 360 and Nintendo’s Wii by making games available via TV sets, Bloomberg News reported.
It said that cable giant Time Warner Cable, AT&T’s U-verse and Verizon’s FiOS TV are all planning to launch such cloud-based gaming services that would allow consumers to connect controllers to TV sets or set-top boxes. Comcast Corp. and Cox Communications are also in discussions to offer video game services, Bloomberg said.
Trials are expected to start later this year, with wider deployments possible as early as 2013, the report said, citing sources familiar with the situation.
The services will go beyond social games from Zynga and casual games to include action games from big-name game makers such as Electronic Arts, according to Bloomberg.
Pay TV and telecom companies could offer the games services as part of their pay TV and/or broadband subscription packages.
The cloud-based games push could accelerate a consumer move away from consoles, which have been the gaming industry’s core money maker. The video game console business was worth $24.1 billion in the U.S. last year, according to research firm NPD Group.
“It makes perfect sense why they would want to go after this market,” Mitch Lasky, a partner at venture firm Benchmark Capital, told Bloomberg. But he also said that offering such games would require “a ton of bandwidth.”
Frank Gibeau, president of Electronic Arts Labels, said games served up via Internet-enabled TV sets is a “big opportunity” over time, but he didn’t detail when it was likely to become a significant opportunity.
For game makers, the cloud approach has the benefit that they don’t need to develop games for various console platforms.
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