Who would have thought that a cable box might provide the biggest competition yet to dedicated consoles like Microsoft's Xbox One, Sony's PlayStation 4, and Nintendo's Wii U systems? As unlikely as that might sound, Comcast
is reportedly close to striking a deal with Electronic Arts
that would allow customers to purchase and play games through its cloud-based X1 cable box.
News of the impending deal comes from Reuters
and its "five sources briefed on the plans." The sources say Comcast and EA have been testing the service for the past two years and are now close to inking a deal to stream games like FIFA and Madden.
The games would be available on X1, an advanced cable box with a video operating system, Internet apps, voice control, and more wrapped up in a slick interface. This would be the latest attempt by Comcast to improve its X1 system to the point where customers aren't tempted to jump ship and view content through rival streaming boxes like Apple TV, Roku,, and Amazon's FireTV, to name a few.
One of the goals Comcast and EA set for themselves is to make buying games a simple process similar to ordering a pay-per-view movie. If successful, the long-term ramifications could spell trouble for dedicated console makers, who in addition to competing with each other would also have to compete with cable companies. However, a lot of things would have to go right, and there would have to be more publishers jumping on board than just EA for something like this to become a legitimate threat.
The initial agreement between Comcast and EA includes the availability of sports and casual titles. In addition to the ones listed above, Monopoly and Plants vs Zombies would be part of the deal. The final game list hasn't yet been decided.