The folks at Multichannel News noticed that Comcast Silicon Valley had recently released an iPad app that is a controller for something called “Xfinity Games powered by Origin.” For those who don’t know, Origin is EA’s online game store and distribution service.
The description of the service on the app’s page reads:
XFINITY Games powered by Origin delivers console-quality video games from Electronic Arts directly to your television using your Comcast X1 set-top box. You can access a catalog of available games through the XFINITY Games powered by Origin web storefront.
The app itself allows you to use your iPad as a controller for the games.
This service seems to require the new X1 platform and set-top boxes that Comcast has been rolling out.
While cable companies and others have introduced apps that allow you to access cable content on gaming consoles, none of these providers have brought anything resembling console gaming to their set-top boxes, though Multichannel News points out that it has been tried before:
The idea of a set-top doubling as a game console goes back more than a decade. In 2001, Pace, which happens to make the hybrid IP/QAM HD-DVR that Comcast is using for the initial rollout of X1, built a prototype set-top/gateway that integrated Sega Corp.’s Dreamcast console. Pace never rolled it out commercially, but it provided an early glimpse at a set-top/console combination.
Going back to the ’90s, there was the Sega Channel, which required a special adapter to allow subscribers to download games to the Sega Genesis.
If successful, this Xfinity/Origin mash-up could provide Comcast customers with one fewer reason to cut the cord, while also giving EA a stronger foothold in its fight for the cloud-based gaming marketplace. Or it could turn into a complete disaster full of billing mistakes, horrid technical support, and bad customer service that has the two companies sharing a Worst Company Golden Poo a couple years from now.