US cable providers are reportedly gearing up to start testing their own cloud-gaming services, in a move that ultimately aims to make dedicated gaming hardware a thing of the past. Citing "people with knowledge of the matter," Bloomberg reports that AT&T, Verizon, and Time Warner are likely to start trials later this year, with wider deployments beginning as early as 2013 or 2014 depending on the results of their tests.
Comcast and Cox are also planning to offer video-gaming services, though the report suggest they are at an earlier stage of negotiations with game publishers. They're all looking to go beyond just social and casual games by offering “advanced action games from top publishers.” Startups such as Playcast Media Systems, CiiNOW, and Agawi would reportedly power the technology behind the scenes.
When asked to comment on the report, executives for AT&T and Cox acknowledged their companies were exploring a number of cloud-based broadband services but declined to provide specifics. Likewise, Verizon said they have the capability to offer such a service but didn’t have anything to announce at the moment. Time Warner Cable and Comcast simply declined to comment on rumors and speculation.
The news come roughly a month after cloud-gaming pioneer OnLive was forced to layoff the majority of its staff and restructure the business, after failing to attract enough subscribers to its $9.99-a-month service. The OnLive branding was kept alive and the service continues to operate, but everything is now run under a new company. Meanwhile, another cloud-gaming startup called Gaikai was acquired by Sony for $380 million.
Cloud-gaming may be off to a rocky start but many are betting it is the future. That includes Nvidia, which recently came forward to instill some confidence in cloud gaming and tout their GeForce GRID technology used to drive graphics in cloud gaming servers while bringing down latency times.