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Cable companies eye video game distribution, report says

AT&T, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable are all planning to deliver video games directly to their customers' televisions.

Will we need consoles any longer?
Will we need consoles any longer?

Cable companies are hatching a plan to take on console makers, a new report claims.

Verizon, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, Comcast, and others, are planning to launch a digital-gaming service that would allow their customers to play titles directly on their televisions without the need for consoles, Bloomberg is reporting today, citing several sources. According to Bloomberg's sources, those games would include everything from simple titles, like Tetris, to the most advanced games from major publishers.

Cloud-based gaming has quickly become a popular trend in the industry, with several companies trying their hand in that space. Steam is one of the more popular cloud-based gaming services, but major publisher Electronic Arts is also trying to get into the mix with its own offering, called Origin.

According to Bloomberg's sources, the cable companies would offer their customers their own generic controllers. The companies are also considering using smartphones as controllers.

If the cable companies actually offer digitally delivered games, it wouldn't be the first time they've gotten into that space. Back in the 1990s, Time Warner Cable was among a couple of carriers that offered Sega Channel. An adapter would be placed into the Sega Genesis, and each month, users would be able to play certain titles available through Sega Channel.

I was among the folks who played Sega Channel. And even back then, it worked extremely well. However, it required a monthly access fee. It's not clear how cable companies would charge for this latest offering.

The cable companies are hoping to start testing their game-delivery services later this year, according to Bloomberg. Wider deployment could begin as early as 2013 or 2014 -- just in time to take on Nintendo's upcoming Wii U and the expected launches of both Microsoft's and Sony's next consoles.