Got A Burning Need To Stream Old Video Games Though Your Cable Box? Comcast And EA Have A Service For You

Comcast hinted at adding streaming games to their X1 platform with a confused commercial last May.

Comcast hinted at adding streaming games to their X1 platform with a confused commercial last May. The young men shown were acting impressed with a lack of buffering on an offline title.

The only two companies ever to win Consumerist’s Worst Company In America award more than once are now teaming up for realsies. Comcast and EA are unveiling a new set-top streaming gaming service together, and it looks like a resounding “meh.”

Comcast made the announcement today. The new service, called Xfinity Games, is currently in a sort-of-closed beta. Current Comcast customers who are already using the X1 platform can apply for access at xfinitygames.com.

The partnership basically cuts out the middle-man of a Sony or Microsoft set-top console (or a PC), and makes certain EA games playable directly from Comcast’s X1 set-top device. Instead of including a traditional controller, players streaming through Xfinity Games can use their phones or tablets — Apple iOS or Samsung Android products — as controllers while kicking back and gaming on their TVs.

The games you stream through Xfinity Games, Comcast makes sure to add, “are treated just like other internet traffic,” meaning that if you are subject a data cap threshold, the game content you stream will count against it.

The initial lineup includes a variety of sports, puzzle, casual, and indie games published by EA studios. Comcast’s blog posts touts EA as “the company responsible for some of the biggest and best games in history,” which is at least an argument that could keep game fans busy for a few weeks… but none of those ultra-blockbuster franchises, or recent entries in them, are available on the service. Plants vs Zombies and FIFA 13 yes; Mass Effect and Madden, not so much. Nor are online multiplayer functions, voice chat, or remote play currently available for any game on the service.

“It’s perfect for families with kids and even those of us who haven’t picked up a game in years,” Comcast says, although why a family would want to go through the process of hooking their iPad up to their X1 and TV for some Peggle instead of just playing the mobile version on that iPad is a lot less clear.

Rumors of the service, and the partnership between EA and Comcast, first began to swirl almost two years ago, when the app first found its way onto Apple’s iOS App Store. Later, certain factually questionable ads Comcast ran in the intervening months served as a reminder that streaming games through the X1 is and was definitely on Comcast’s agenda.

The point behind the Xfinity X1 platform is that it’s just that: a platform. The cloud-based, remotely accessible service integrates DVR, TV listings, and Comcast’s on-demand video offerings. Like many other stand-alone devices (Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, etc.), the X1 allows you to run a variety of apps like weather, music, and sports alongside your Comcast content.

And if making those apps readily available on your cable box keeps you in their walled garden and reduces the likelihood you’ll go out and get something that will let you switch to watching Netflix instead, well, so much the better for Comcast.