The rumors were true: Two of the most hated companies in America have teamed up to stream games to your cable box. If you pay for Comcast’s fancy X1 service, you could soon be playing titles like Plants vs. Zombies, Real Racing 2 and NBA Jam on your TV without so much as a disc or a download.
It’s called Xfinity Games, and it sounds like it works much like any of the other cloud gaming services we’ve seen in the past, like Gaikai (which got bought by Sony), OnLive (which collapsed and sold its patents to Sony), or Sony’s own PlayStation Now. Your game actually runs on a remote server—not on the cable box—so what you see on the TV is basically a live video of the game running.
Which typically means that you need to have a good internet connection, live close to the servers, and have a very low-latency gamepad so that the time between you pressing a button and the time you see something happen on the screen is extremely short.
In the case of Xfinity Games, that controller is actually going to be your smartphone or tablet, which will only include Apple iOS and Samsung Android devices to start. And for now, the games will only include titles from Electronic Arts. (You can find the full list of games here: other highlights include FIFA Soccer, Monopoly, and PGA Tour.) Some of those games look like they’ll even support multiplayer with other people in the same room.
It’s definitely a pretty slow start for the service, but it also comes with a reasonable price: free, for now. Comcast and EA are committed to a one-month beta to begin with, and while it sounds like there’ll be some sort of subscription required when the beta’s done, they aren’t even talking about price yet.
So if you’ve got one of those fancy X1 cable boxes, you might as well give it a go! If you’ve never tried cloud gaming, you should—it’s pretty damn cool. Just be sure to make sure it doesn’t burn through your data cap. Comcast says Xfinity Games isn’t exempt from that rule.
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