Might your next, new video game system be a Comcast X1 set-top box?
Now rolling out in Philadelphia (and about half of its’ national footprint), the X1 is a far more powerful device and platform than cable boxes of yore. It is cloud connected for navigation and search features and (soon coming) remote DVR storage. And as first reported by Multichannel News, this Pace-built X1 box also is capable of streaming videogames to your TV, to then be steered wirelessly with a tablet functioning as the game controller. ("Flinging" content from a tablet to the X1 is also in the cards.)
While not formally announced, Comcast’s high tech group in Silicon Valley has released an app on iTunes that turns the Apple iPad into a game controller for the service, and some lucky beta testers are now having their way with it.
The pilot offering is called Xfinity Games Powered by Origin. As described on the iTunes app page it “delivers console-quality video games from Electronic Arts directly to your television using your Comcast X1-set-top box. You can access a catalogue of available games through the XFINITY Games powered by Origin web storefront. After launching a game from the web storefront, this app instantly turns your iPad into the controller.”
Until now, we’ve known of Electronic Arts’ Origins only as a convenient, on-line source for buying games that users download to a PC or Mac. The current offerings include the likes of “Battlefield 3,” “Sim City 3 Island Paradise” and “Crysis 3.” Some downloads are free (“Need for Speed World,” “Star Wars: The Old Republic”.) Others are available for download even before the games go on sale, though aren’t unlocked until the due date.
Theoretically, an outboard hard drive could be attached to an X1 box to enable similar downloads. Pace has prior experience in such things, having once tested (though not introducing) a cable box that linked up with the Sega Dreamcast. Otherwise, the powers that be could just stream games “live” over Comcast’s network – easy to do with un-twitchy “Sims” titles, and another reason to upgrade to higher speed Internet service.
This mashing up of cable boxes and game systems is a phenomenon gaining steam. Time Warner is now pumping 300 “live” TV channels to subscribers’ Xbox 360 boxes; Sony has made a deal to push Viacom channels through its’ forthcoming Playstation 4. And Microsoft’s next gen Xbox One is ALL about video/game integration.