Increasingly, video games are becoming the domain of more than just consoles. Every new set-top streaming box comes with a games component. And thus, Comcast and EA have teamed up to stream games.
Now in beta, Xfinity Games doesn’t appear to have much to do with EA’s somewhat controversial service Origin: EA is just providing the games, while Comcast provides the infrastructure to stream them. It also appears that instead of shipping a custom controller, your cable box will instead use your smartphone as a controller, which loads the controls using a custom website.
Currently, the service is free, but Variety notes that Comcast may consider subscription or rental costs down the line. Needless to say, this is aimed more at the casual gamer, not the hardcore fan.
That said, Comcast has a pretty big boulder to roll up the hill. Everyone from custom microconsole manufacturers to Amazon has been targeting “casual gamers” with their set-top boxes, and so far, nothing has really stuck. Similarly, streaming games have a lot of hype behind them, but services like OnLive have struggled before going under, and Sony is noticeably quiet about the popularity and success of its PlayStation Now service. Finally, touchscreen controls are notoriously spotty, which raises the question of just how this service has gotten around those issues. Monopoly is one thing; racing games are quite another.
That said, if you’re hard up for gaming, or if you just want to play some NBA Jam with friends, it might be a useful option. We’ll keep an eye on the service as it evolves.