Following two years of testing, Comcast and Electronic Arts are reportedly close to reaching an agreement that would allow customers to stream EA video games to televisions via Comcast’s X1 cable box system, and use their tablets as controllers. The cloud-connected X1 system features apps, viewing recommendations and voice control. According to sources familiar with the plans, games such as “FIFA,” “Madden” and “Monopoly” would be available to Comcast’s more-than 22 million U.S. customers.
While revenue share terms and a release date have not been revealed, the idea is to make game purchases as simple as ordering pay-per-view, a goal which could also result in a distribution model that bypasses console and streaming device makers.
“If the agreement goes through, it would mark the boldest step yet by a cable company to muscle into the territory of leading video-game console manufacturers such as Sony Corp and Microsoft Corp,” suggests Reuters. “Comcast has been beefing its x1 system with new features to stop potential customer defections to rival video streaming systems such as Apple TV and Amazon.com Inc’s FireTV, which was launched just last month with a slew of games.”
The deal could serve as an important new revenue opportunity for EA, which is part of an industry that is experiencing disappointing software sales despite recent launches of Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4 consoles.
“Last fall, [Comcast] started selling movies for download and streaming through its set-top boxes and XFINITY TV website, which created a new path for Hollywood studios to generate revenue from films after their theater run ends,” notes the article.
“Microsoft and Sony have added media features to their consoles over the past two years like original programming, online video and TV apps — including Comcast’s XFINITY on-demand service. But cable companies so far have not been able to load their set-top boxes with the technology to support gaming.”