A number of well-known cable companies are preparing to compete in the home gaming space with planned test runs for game-streaming services similar to those offered by OnLive and Gaikai, Bloomberg reports. AT&T, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable are specifically named by "people with knowledge of the matter," and trials are expected to start as soon as late-2012, with broader launches in 2013 and 2014.
Other cable providers are eyeing the interactive space as well, with both Comcast and Cox Communications also reportedly in talks to offering gaming services that "go beyond social games from Zynga Inc. and casual games such as Tetris and Solitaire." The advantage that all of the companies have over cloud-focused startups like OnLive/Gaikai is a built-in infrastructure; there's no need to spend untold amounts on establishing new data centers when most cable providers can simply layer streaming games as an additional feature on top of their existing frameworks.
It sounds like the various companies are taking different approaches here. Some are turning to startups that offer the software and technology needed to deliver high-end gaming experiences in real time. Others, such as Verizon, already have the ability to offer this service. It's all very early days, but it's definitely a nod toward the no-console future that many in the industry have predicted.
While the competing consoles still have an edge on the technology side, it's each one's online community that the cable companies will have to crack. Whether you're married to your Achievements/Trophies or simply own too much digital-only content on one platform or another to simply let it go, there's a level of investment in the userbase on the console side that cable companies will likely be fighting against if ISP-sourced game-streaming starts to offer serious competition.
If your cable company of choice started offering streaming games in some form or another, what would it take to get you to abandon your console or not buy into whatever the next generation might hold? Would the existence of a streaming games service be enough on its own?