Despite the rather dramatic meltdown of OnLive earlier this year, "cloud gaming" remains one of the go-to buzzwords for the future of game delivery. With so many American internet service providers capping data or providing slow and/or unreliable bandwidth, a fully-streaming future has seemed likely to take a while to catch on.
A recent Bloomberg report, however, indicates that the cable companies who provide most households with broadband internet service want to take the plunge and themselves offer cloud gaming services, cutting out the middlemen entirely. According to the report, AT&T, Verizon, Time Warner, Comcast, and Cox cable are all "in talks to offer video-gaming services," and, "looking to go beyond social games from Zynga Inc.and casual games such as "Tetris" and "Solitaire," with technology that can deliver the most advanced action games from top publishers such as Electronic Arts Inc."
It no doubt benefits companies like Comcast, Time Warner, and so on when subscribers watch programming through their On Demand service, rather than going through Netflix. Likewise, it would no doubt benefit the same companies if players were to stream Mass Effect 3 directly through them, rather than to acquire it through a different streaming service or direct download.
But would such a move benefit players? If services running directly through the provider don't count against a bandwidth cap, then as the future trends more and more toward the digitally distributed such a workaround may indeed be valuable.
Still, for all that cloud gaming may well be the trend of the future, it seems unlikely that provider-dependent gaming will trump the social offerings and built-up profiles of Sony, Microsoft, or even Nintendo's gaming networks. There's more to playing than just the games, especially in the "add multiplayer to everything" era.
Xbox Challenged as Cable Plots to Make Consoles Obsolete [Bloomberg, via GamePolitics]