Comcast’s Internet-connected X1 cable box may soon be a game console, sort of. The cable giant is nearing a deal with game publisher EA to sell and stream videogames to the TV that would be playable with a tablet controller, sources tell Re/code.
Reuters was first to report the approaching deal Friday afternoon.
The Reuters report singled out EA sports franchises FIFA and Madden — longtime cash cows for gaming consoles like the PlayStation and Xbox — as two potential games to be streamed via Comcast’s pipes. One source tells us that due to the limitations of a tablet as a controller it’s more likely the first games on the system will be more casual family-friendly fare.
Last summer, the two companies tested a streaming service on the X1 that used EA’s online game delivery service Origin and a custom iPad app as the controller. Reuters’ report dated initial testing as having started at least two years ago.
Comcast’s X1 box (not to be confused with Microsoft’s Xbox One) is a DVR and media hub aimed at quickly pulling down TV, movies and other types of content from the Web. The company is reportedly installing between 15,000 and 20,000 of the new boxes per day.
The deal comes at a time when the current console leaders, Sony and Microsoft, are trying to embed themselves deeper into the living room. Sony’s own game-streaming service, PlayStation Now, currently in closed beta and scheduled for a wider release later this year, will bring games from its past PlayStation consoles to new devices, including Sony’s own line of Bravia TVs. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s Xbox One hooks into existing cable boxes and other media devices, with the company positioning the console as a default hub for all the media in your living room.
Disclosure: Comcast owns NBCUniversal, which is an investor in Revere Digital, the parent company of Re/code.