updated 09:04 pm EDT, Tue September 25, 2012
Verizon, Time Warner, AT&T plan gaming service
The major cable companies are looking to take a big step into the gaming sector, according to reports. Sources familiar with the cable companies' plans tell Bloomberg that they will soon be rolling out trials of a cloud-based gaming offering service, taking on game console makers such as Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony. The trials are scheduled to begin later this year, with AT&T, Verizon, Time Warner Cable, Comcast, and Cox all working on offerings.
Reports on the providers' plans indicate that they will be pushing game content directly to televisions, without the need for a console. The cable providers are said to be working with startups such as Playcast Media Systems, CiiNOW, and Agawi -- all of which make real-time gaming software -- and representatives from those companies have acknowledged that they are working with US carriers.
The providers mentioned in the report are said to be looking to move beyond social games and casual games into the realm of games from top publishers.
The carriers still need to put in place the technology that would allow for cloud-based gaming. That will require large scale virtualization infrastructure, and the companies would also need to incorporate graphics processing equipment into their existing data centers in order to handle the graphical loads accompanying most games.
While online gaming, with Microsoft's Xbox console arguably at the forefront, has exploded in popularity, cloud-hosted gaming has moved forward in fits and starts. Game streaming service OnLive debuted to much fanfare, only fizzle with low adoption rates as it bled money before suddenly collapsing. A similar company, Gaikai, saw some successes, but never truly took off in the gaming sector. Sony purchased Gaikai in July of this year, though, for $380 million.