Comcast’s plans to stream games to cable subscribers have finally come to fruition. Today, the cable giant announced Xfinity Games, a partnership with video game publisher Electronic Arts that’ll see a selection of titles — 23 to start — streamed to owners of Comcast’s X1 set-top box.
Xfinity Games’ requirements are fairly light. Comcast says you’ll need a high-speed data connection (the company didn’t lay out exact details, unfortunately) and, if you want to save your in-game progress, an active EA Origin account. Assuming you check both of those boxes, you can sign up to participate in the free public beta via xfinitygames.com. Comcast says invites will go out “within the next few days.”
It’s clear from the launch library that Xfinity Games is aimed at the casual gaming crowd — people who wouldn’t ordinarily pick up a controller, said vice president of market at EA Katrina Strafford. Most titles — Real Racing 2, Monopoly, Plants vs. Zombies, and Peggle Nights, among others — are already available on mobile, and controlled by a phone or tablet paired to X1.
“Casual gamers primarily play on mobile devices, and we saw this as an opportunity to bring them back to the TV set,” senior director of strategic development at Comcast Bryan Witkowski told GamesBeat. It’s a web-based setup: you point your device’s browser to a specified webpage, enter a unique seven-digit code, and launch games from the paired device. “We wanted to remove the friction,” Witkowski said. “There’s no new hardware. No visit to the retail store. And it works with X1.”
Ultimately, Comcast wants to make using Xfinity Games “as easy as switching between channels,” Comcast’s executive director of product Preston Smalley told The Verge. It won’t do so unfairly — the service won’t be given priority over traffic from competitors like PlayStation Now and NVIDIA Grid, Comcast says. The goal, rather, is to attract users organically through “intuitive” and “tailored” content. “We would like EA’s role in this to being [sic] a content provider, like HBO,” said Stafford.
Comcast says it’s committed to adding new games over time. It hasn’t finalized a business model for after the service exits beta.