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Comcast’s X1 Gets Into the Game

Comcast’s contention that its Internet protocol- capable X1 platform will enable it to usher in new apps is rapidly being put to the test in the form of a “console-quality” gaming service that’s powered by Origin, Electronic Arts’ Web-based game store.

For the trial, Comcast has developed an app that turns and iPad into a game controller that works in tandem with the X1 gateway/HD-DVR.

According to an FAQ about the trial, Comcast is testing the service, called “Xfinity Games powered by Origin,” in “limited markets” and available to customers on an invite-only basis. Comcast is recruiting testers via email and directing those customers to complete a screening survey. The free, limited trial is asking testers to provide feedback to help “shape the future of this service.” Comcast has not commented on the trial and when it might roll it out commercially.

But the trial represents the kind of third-party service that could drive new revenue streams for Comcast’s X1 platform, which has been rolled out to more than half the MSO’s platform and is expected to reach all of its markets by the end of 2013.

It also marks a further blurring of lines between set-tops and gaming consoles, which have morphed into multi-functional video-delivery systems.

The idea of meshing a set-top and a gaming console has been tried before. In 2001, Pace prototyped a set-top integrated with the Sega Dreamcast console. Pace never rolled it out commercially, but the vendor’s vision has apparently proved prescient.