IP video

Comcast Plays Games With X1

About two years after it started exploring the idea, Comcast is finally stepping into the video-game big leagues with a new gaming service designed to boost the value of its X1 IP video platform.

In a company blog post Tuesday, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) announced that it's teaming up with Electronic Arts Inc. (Nasdaq: ERTS) to conduct a beta trial of its new games service. Known as Xfinity Games powered by EA, the new streaming service will initially offer up to 24 different titles to select video and broadband subscribers with X1 set-top or gateway boxes. Comcast customers can sign up for the trial at xfinitygames.com for no charge. (See Comcast Nears Gaming Launch With EA.)

Comcast, which had already been testing the service with its own and EA employees, did not say how many X1 customers will be able to participate in the beta trial. Nor did it say how long the trial would last, when or where it plans to launch the service commercially or how it will price the service. But it did say the trial will grow in size as it goes on.

"We'll continually add customers from the waiting list, as capacity grows," Sam Schwartz, chief business development for Comcast Cable, noted in his blog post. "We're looking for feedback as we test and tweak the experience and want people to play as much as they'd like so we can evaluate and improve the service."

Want to know more about the impact of web-based services on the pay-TV sector? Check out our dedicated OTT services content channel here on Light Reading.

Seeking to increase the value and stickiness of its cloud-based X1 IP video service for more customers, Comcast is streaming the HD games over the Internet to X1 boxes. Subscribers don't need to download any software or buy any extra equipment to play. Instead, they can use their smartphones or tablets as controllers for the games.

In another move to branch out, Comcast is focusing on offering titles aimed at families and casual users, not hardcore gamers. The initial set of games, for example, includes titles from EA's popular PGA and FIFA series of family-oriented sports games.

"We've always said the X1 Platform can deliver experiences beyond movies and shows," Schwartz wrote in his blog. "And we're not stopping here. We're excited about partnering with others to bring new experiences and services to the XI."

It's also notable that Comcast unveiled the Xfinity Games beta trial just one day after it announced the launches of its new multi-gigabit service, Gigabit Pro, and its new OTT video service, Stream. With many industry analysts and consumers wondering just what broadband subscribers will do with all that bandwidth in the home. With Stream and now Xfinity Games, Comcast seems to be supplying two prime answers. (See Comcast trots out Gigabit Pro… at a price and Comcast 'Stream' Joins OTT Flood.)

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

KBode 7/15/2015 | 5:19:48 PM
Curious... I'm truly curious if they get much traction with this. Especially with the proliferation of game consoles, tablets, smartphones and handheld gaming devices. Companies have eyed these kinds of services for years and they never seem to gain traction; sometimes people just want their cable box to be a cable box.
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