Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo are being put on notice by the cable companies, who will reportedly begin cloud gaming trials soon for a wider rollout as early as next year.
Bloomberg reports that AT&T, Verizon, and Time Warner are readying plans to skip the Xbox, PlayStation, and Wii entirely in favor of cloud-based gaming services that won't rely on traditional consoles.
With nearly 50 million digital TV subscribers combined, cloud gaming is viewed as the next big thing for cable companies, who are already providing internet and phone services.
While the cable providers remain mostly mum on their plans, video game analysts are quite bullish on their prospects for console-free cloud gaming.
No console required
"Everybody has a TV," remarked video games analyst Atul Bagga of Lazard Capital Markets to Bloomberg.
Cable providers are "looking for new ways to monetize their users and gaming can be pretty compelling," Bagga added.
AT&T spokeswoman Jan Rasmussen confirmed the company was "exploring unique ways to offer cloud gaming services to our TV and broadband customers," with U-verse subscribers currently numbering 4.15 million.
To add cloud gaming services, cable providers are turning to startups like Playcast Media Systems, CiiNOW and Agawi, who have confirmed discussions with U.S. providers but declined to cite their names.
"If there was ever a service that fit network providers, it's this one," CiiNOW chief executive officer Ron Haberman explained. "2013 is going to be when we see big commercial offerings."