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Report: Comcast and EA To Stream Games To TVs

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the glad-that-network-congestion-cleared-up-for-you-comcast dept.

Television 52

An anonymous reader writes "Reuters is reporting that Electronic Arts and Comcast are working on a partnership that would stream video games to consumer televisions through Comcast's cable boxes. It will start with the FIFA and Madden sports game franchises. 'Comcast and EA's aim is to make buying games as easy as ordering a pay-per-view movie, sources said. This could create a new distribution model that circumvents console and video-streaming device makers.' The report says consumers will also be able to use tablets as controllers for the games."

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New? (3, Insightful)

Travis Mansbridge (830557) | about 7 months ago | (#46903631)

Sega Channel was doing this back in the 90's.

Re:New? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46903829)

No, they weren't. Sega channel let you stream games to your Sega Genesis, not to your cable box. Sega Channel also didn't actually "stream" shit, you downloaded the game, and then played it off local media. Was it way ahead of its time? Yes. Did it blow my 11 year old mind? Fuck yes. Was it terrible to the point of uselessness? well, fuck yes again. But it had little to no relation to what Comcast/EA are trying to do here, which would be pretty much exactly at it's time, not blow anyone's mind, and be absolutely completely horrendously terrible to the point of complete and total uselessness.

Nabu network (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46904581)

and the Nabu network did it in the early 80's
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NABU_Network

although this too was more of a download type of deal but it still was revolutionary and blew my mind when it came out.

Re:New? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46904721)

Yeah and Intellivision was doing this back in 1981.

Re: New? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46905011)

Not quite... Intellivision was like Atari. buy your games at the store bring them home and play them. It did have a bit of a computer keyboard add on and BASIC programming ability but that was about it. Nothing connecting it externally unless you set up a modem but then that would be just like a computer and those were around before any of these. The NABU network had a console you could purchase and then you paid a monthly fee for a subscription to a service where you would get news updates, weather, word processor applications as well as choose from a menu of games that you could download without ever leaving your house. I don't think intellivision ever took that step. You may have just as well said Pong came out in the early 70's or...

The earliest known interactive electronic game was by Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann on a cathode ray tube.[3] The patent was filed on January 25, 1947 and issued on December 14, 1948.[4] The game was a missile simulator inspired by radar displays from World War II. It used analog circuitry, not digital, to control the CRT beam and position a dot on the screen. Screen overlays were used for targets since graphics could not be drawn at the time.

Anyone excited about this? (2)

ddt (14627) | about 7 months ago | (#46903641)

I'm genuinely curious if anyone is excited about this. This service seems like it would be of interest to no one outside of big companies wanting to cut big company deals.

Re:Anyone excited about this? (2)

ComputersKai (3499237) | about 7 months ago | (#46903695)

Comcast and EA...
I'm not particularly excited. Comcast, besides already providing our internet, TV, streaming, is trying to merge with Time Warner, and now they seem to also want a grip on the game industry. Does anyone seem to have a problem with that?

I do (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46906239)

This type of monopolization by corporate companies is just sad. And its at a global level despite the pathetic, defunct EU's attempts at trying to 'level the playing field'.

Even more sad, few people care or are worried enough to say/try to get politicians to stop being bought and paid for corporate hand puppets. What else can we do? I have no faith in US citizens to stand up and knock Comcast and Verizon off the mountain of BS their standing on. You have politicians appointing corporate lobbyists, or former high ranking employees of those companies into the FCC and elsewhere within Federal government to help them keep their dictatorships.

Unless some miracle happens such as Washington suddenly exploding from a volcano, it is going to stay the status quo

Re:Anyone excited about this? (1)

duke_cheetah2003 (862933) | about 7 months ago | (#46904347)

Two rather disliked companies teaming up? Not excited. FRIGHTENED!

Re:Anyone excited about this? (1)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about 7 months ago | (#46906519)

It would be like "twitch tv" except through your cable box. This kind of thing could take off pretty well if games start to build in some kind of "spectator" mode meant for streaming. It's already proven very popular for things like Star Craft, and I have to admit the idea of simply tuning into a channel from the couch is pretty cool.

Re:Anyone excited about this? (1)

ComputersKai (3499237) | about 7 months ago | (#46911409)

Except for the fact that one of the voted "Worst Companies" is managing it

Really? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46903643)

Tablets as controllers? What are we, barbarians?

Re:Really? (0)

aliquis (678370) | about 7 months ago | (#46903979)

Barbarians, Apple users, you're pick what you want to call them really ;)

PC GAMING ÃoeBER ALLES!

Comcast and EA (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46903657)

It's like Stalin and Hitler teaming up to deliver milk for a monthly premium instead of buying the cow.

Re:Comcast and EA (2)

fibonacci8 (260615) | about 7 months ago | (#46904507)

When EA and Comcast team up, not even God wins.

What a team (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46903673)

Answer: EA and Comcast

Question: Who are two companies you should never give another bloody dime to.

when bad meets evil (2)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 7 months ago | (#46903677)

this has been done by multiple companies, in various iterations, and all have failed. This will too of course.

the group of folks who are into FIFA and/or Madden already have consoles. with real controllers. without streaming induced latency.

Though Comcast and EA teaming up .. has historical precedent, Poland should be very very concerned. :(

Re: when bad meets evil (1)

Scowler (667000) | about 7 months ago | (#46903767)

The latency from multiplayer over the Internet is still there. This only adds latency viewing the response from your own input. Still, Madden and FIFA games are evolving, with more and more players acting as coaches and managers only, letting AI fully handle actual player simulation. In that scenario, this added latency is not a problem.

Re: when bad meets evil (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 7 months ago | (#46904119)

The latency from multiplayer over the Internet is still there.

Although if you are a Comcast subscriber, your latency to them is much less than to any single centralized location. If there's anything that ends up making this succeed where others failed, it would be that Comcast has data centers nearby their customers, and can prioritize the traffic.

Re: when bad meets evil (1)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 7 months ago | (#46908381)

and if anything guarantee's failure, it would be that it's a joint venture between comcast and EA, the two most hated companies in the us (literally, i believe.). See the above stalin/hitler reference.

Re: when bad meets evil (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | about 7 months ago | (#46909635)

The latency from multiplayer over the Internet is still there. This only adds latency viewing the response from your own input. Still, Madden and FIFA games are evolving, with more and more players acting as coaches and managers only, letting AI fully handle actual player simulation. In that scenario, this added latency is not a problem.

All modern videogames hide latency with client-side prediction. At the very least, locally rendered games means your own avatar, the one most important to you, is always snappy and responsive (unless the devs royally screwed up). The reason most streaming technology has generally failed so far is that input latency is extremely frustrating for gamers, making the game feel sluggish and unresponsive. You say "only" in regard to input latency, but that's a pretty huge caveat. Games like you mentioned that don't rely on twitch reflexes seem the best option, but that definitely limits the viable options.

Of course, there's the other big issue - with streaming games, you're essentially just renting the games you want to play, and only for as long as the service exists. Streaming rented games from server farms is a game publisher's wet dream. Subscriber-only games paid for by the month, and absolutely can't be copied or shared with your friends.

Sorry, you want to actually buy your games and play them as long as you want? Hahahaha, yeah, right!

Cable TV: A solution looking for a problem (2, Interesting)

netsavior (627338) | about 7 months ago | (#46903681)

Cable is over. That is pretty obvious by their constant blundering around trying to find a problem that their solution solves.

Why would EA do this? (1)

Scowler (667000) | about 7 months ago | (#46903683)

Comcast's motivation is obvious, but EA seems pretty shortsighted. Probably a majority of their dedicated Madden / FIFA players that could be swayed into a subscription business are NOT Comcast subscribers. Yet.

Oh god this sounds like a DRM grab (2)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 7 months ago | (#46903719)

Something tells me this is some kind of an attempt to impose DRM through the cable box, going after people who are accustomed to shelling out for Sports packages through Comcast to get all the games for their sport.

I like soccer, for example, but I don't pay for the Soccer sports packages, just the expanded basic.

But they figure I'll shell out to play the EA FIFA2013 game.

How wrong they are.

I'd rather play inFamous: Second Son on my PS4 without online and shell out the money for seasons tickets for me and my son and my friends to see Sounders FC in the actual stadium instead. Cheaper too.

Warning: Slashdot Beta on the rise again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46903739)

Warning: I'm getting bounced more frequently to the Beta site once again; Dice may be having another go at trying to roll it out. Be warned.

I wonder what percentage of Slashdot visitors are immediately switching back to Slashdot Classic by using the link at the bottom of the page ?

If you don't like Slashdot Beta, then don't live with it. Use the link at the bottom of the page to go back to Slashdot Classic and send a _huge_ message to Dice at the same time when they come to look at their website logs.

If you like this idea, feel free to repost this message in other stories and help send a message to Dice they cannot ignore.

It's like DRM met killing Network Neutrality (1)

smartr (1035324) | about 7 months ago | (#46903799)

Why do I get the feeling this is going to be one of those things where Comcast degrades other internet traffic because they EA wants DRM you can't break?

What a shitty idea (2)

kheldan (1460303) | about 7 months ago | (#46903807)

Other than being able to test-drive a game before you buy it, why in the world would you want to do this? The overall quality can't be as good as an actual game console, can it? Otherwise it just sounds to me like yet another way to swindle people out of their money and give them essentially nothing.

Re:What a shitty idea (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 7 months ago | (#46904071)

Probably to avoid paying $600 for a new console and a couple games.

But yeah, it'll never really work for games designed for game consoles, just as new games had to come along for smartphones and facebook instead of just using PC games directly on those platforms. They are vastly inferior to the PC in any way a PC gamer would have thought to measure, yet make big bucks for some companies.

Re:What a shitty idea (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 7 months ago | (#46904885)

Here's the problem as I see it. The only reason to do this in the cloud is because you can't afford a fast enough computer to run the games at home. And game that requires fast rendering of high quality graphics is going to be somewhat fast paced. Nobody cares about graphics in turn based strategy games. So, in order to decrease controller lag, the server will have to be close to your physical location, preferably in the same city, or at least in about a 500 mile radius. Everybody who is using the service in the same area will be playing at the same time because most people work the same hours. Also, most hardcore gamers that would care about graphics (aka, not filthy casuals who just play Farmville) would want to play a couple hours a day. So there's very little time sharing that could be done. So you're basically going to beating for a very large share of the computing resources, so much so, that you may as well just buy the machine.

Laughs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46903817)

First off this has been rumored for what, years now? Secondly, there's no established business model or good business model for this. Do you "buy" a game you require and internet connection for at all (cause that really works well today) AND requires you to stay with that provider? Do you get an "all you can play" package, how the hell do you even price that? This isn't, and can't be, Netflix. Games range in price from $1 to $60, how do you price disparity that? Then there's the technological leaps.

Lag is a bitch no matter what game you play, and will make it really uncomfortable to impossible for high reaction time games like racing games or online shooters. Also there's the question of all that overhead cost. You are required to have a local minimum of the maximum userbase at any one of machines to actually run these games, and this isn't streaming video that can run on nothing servers either. Then there's down time, people already hate it for Netflix, and that's just a show that you can resume at any time. If it's a game your going to just throw your controller in disgust "yell screw this shit!" and consider never using it again.

There are soooooo many very difficult usolved problems that I don't doubt this will fail if it comes to fruition at all.

make it like a hotel (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 7 months ago | (#46904831)

and bill $7+ HR

Re:Laughs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46905621)

kind of like how some movies cost a few hundred thousand and others hundreds of millions. how could they ever offer both on the same $8/month streaming subscription?

Interesting Platform Envelopment Attack (2)

SlashdotOgre (739181) | about 7 months ago | (#46903819)

I will give it to Comcast & EA, this is definitely an interesting way to attack traditional consoles. It's very fitting that MS is one of the targets, as this was one of their favorite weapons (i.e. Bundling IE with Windows to attack Netscape, WMV to attack Real, etc.).

I'll be curious how they execute this platform envelopment [wikipedia.org] attack as I think its success will largely rely on their operational efficiency (something neither Comcast nor EA are known for). Comcast certainly has a major advantage over other remote gaming providers in terms of latency, but even being the closest hop to their customers, I don't know if it's quick enough for certain games. I don't think they'd cache the game locally on the customer's X1 client as it those devices won't have anywhere near the processing power of a modern console. I also have serious doubts about using tablets as controllers as described however I presume their target is casual gamers (i.e. those who never owned a console before they bought the original Wii). It will be interesting to see how those users respond.

I am also curious to see how MS & Sony will respond. MS currently offers a Comcast app on the Xbox 360 (and I presume the Xbox One); will both sides continue with that service? Does anyone know how the financials work with that (i.e. does one side pay the other)?

Re:Interesting Platform Envelopment Attack (2)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about 7 months ago | (#46905111)

> I will give it to Comcast & EA, this is definitely an interesting way to attack traditional consoles.

I think in the coming months we will hear about this again maybe once or twice and then a year later no remembers this article.

X1 platform, maybe why comcast wants merger (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46905433)

Hmm, Comcast is allowing other applications to use its DRMed platform for delivering TV. Developing a big platform requires lots and lots of money, and it works best if split across a very large number of users. Maybe this is why Comcast wants to merge with Time Warner? I believe the cell phone companies tried their own walled gardens in the early 2000s. They did not gain traction. I guess the same will happen with Comcast.

Re:Interesting Platform Envelopment Attack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46915991)

For 'some' games it will work ok. For twitchy sort of games not so much the latency would be horrible. But then again that doesnt stop legions of people playing FPS...

Oh Noes! (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 7 months ago | (#46903855)

Comcast and EA? Isn't that crossing the beams?

Re:Oh Noes! (1)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about 7 months ago | (#46905131)

Can't be. More like watching 2 blind people fumble around and that maybe adding more blind people would induce creativity. Or something ...

Buy? (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about 7 months ago | (#46903929)

I'm actually curious if any of the representatives from EA actually used the word "buy".

they better be dirt cheap (1)

sixsixtysix (1110135) | about 7 months ago | (#46903935)

if i'm giving away my right to sell and/or lend the games, then surely the price should be under $10, and even that's asking a lot.

Bandwidth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46904055)

Wait, isn't comcast always adding caps and bitching that too much bandwidth is being used by its customers and they "just cant keep up! ( and maintain 43% profit margins)" So they are going to start streaming games? Cuz that won't tax the network at all...."We're sorry, but you've hit your monthly limit of 5 bytes, the next 5 will only be $100!"

Why settle for the lesser of two evils... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46904069)

when you can have BOTH!
Two winners of the Golden Poo, twice the shitty product. I can't wait!

Game of patience (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 7 months ago | (#46904087)

If streaming games is anything like streaming video, it will be a game of patience as it buffers..

EA Games? (1)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | about 7 months ago | (#46904339)

5 years ago, I would of looked forward to it.

Now? I'll check to see if AT&T will offer being dragged thru a swimming pool full of salted razor blades as an alternative.

The latter would be more preferable....

Insert Coin (1)

Dutchmaan (442553) | about 7 months ago | (#46904449)

So basically we're back to the arcade.. only in your living room..

bandwidth? will they add SDV someday? (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 7 months ago | (#46904629)

Comcast needs better cable tv they are behind other cable systems. There nbc premier league extra time is a joke why put that on VOD when other systems have it as real part time channels that work like live tv channels.

any ways didn't hot cable Israel have some thing like this?

Right now with VOD you can see the control lag but that is ok when viewing a movie / show but to play a game with that?

Camcast and EA? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46904673)

Do I see a sith lord and apprentice team here? or is that just me?

Re:Camcast and EA? (1)

qwak23 (1862090) | about 7 months ago | (#46911605)

I would ask who would be the sith lord and who would be the apprentice, but after some thought I definitely think EA is the sith lord and Comcast the apprentice.

Comcast gets our dollars because often they are the only choice for a reasonably fast internet connection (essentially a regional monopoly).

EA manages to get our dollars purely voluntarily, even in light of all that negative press.

Easy? (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 7 months ago | (#46904783)

half the time on demand wont work, the other half it bitches about the cable box THEY JUST GAVE ME

on demand is so easy its useless

Hitler and Ebola. (1)

Kaenneth (82978) | about 7 months ago | (#46905349)

On a lighter note, CDC labs in Atlanta have successfully injected DNA from Adolf Hilter into an airborne strain of the Ebola virus.

already done (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 7 months ago | (#46907387)

Cable boxes already have terrible games on them that you can play. All this seems like to me is a licensing deal. EA is willing to slap their label on some of the shit games. I suspect we'll have some version of Tetris with football shaped blocks and a big picture of John Madden of to the side.

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