US cable giants prepare console challenge with streaming games push

Traditional gaming has held its own in the face of increasing opposition this generation – but its stiffest challenge may be yet to come.

American cable TV giants AT&T, Verizon and Time Warner are readying a new push into streaming gaming that will see subscribers able to play titles directly through their cable boxes.

Bloombergreports that trials are scheduled to start later this year with a view to widespread deployment in 2013.

We’re not just talking about Zynga-style casual games either – it is understood that the cable companies are very serious about offering console-rivalling triple-A titles.

An initiative that would allow users to use their smartphone as a controller is being explored, though most providers will likely also offer a dedicated joypad.

The seriousness of the threat posed to the console gaming model should not be underestimated. In the US cable TV is effectively standard. By their nature, cable TV boxes are built purely to deliver high-speed data transfer – the ideal environment for cloud gaming to flourish.

And should we arrive at a point where consumers can access both casual and triple-A games through their cable box, the incentive to spend hundreds of dollars on a dedicated gaming console will be significantly reduced.

Also note that companies such as AT&T and Time Warner enjoy a perk that rivals such as OnLive did not – very deep pockets. Taking a short-term hit with an eye on the long-term gain is business as usual for them.

When contacted by Bloomberg nearly all of the cable providers involved admitted to actively exploring options regarding cloud-based content.

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