Gaming: The app IPTV forgot

UPDATE: I managed to meet up with gaming company: Games4TV, which, according to the show guide is the only gaming-specific company exhibiting at TelcoTV. Games4TV is head up by Laura Buddine, whose claim to fame is inventing one of Thomson’s first set-top boxes. Buddine is bullish on gaming for the IPTV space, and like the Tier 3 telco I had spoken with earlier, agreed that gaming will be the first interactive feature deployed by the CLECs and IOCs. Surprisingly, Games4TV already has deals in place with some of the more aggressive IPTV service providers, including SaskTel, Manitoba a hospitality company called Skylight and a few others. As luck would have it I ended up sitting next to a serious World of Warcraft gamer on the flight back—he claims he’s already reached the highest level of the game after nearly two years of play—he’s also met his girlfriend and nearly all of this friends through the game. And after seeing the screenshots Games4TV is offering he laughs at the graphics and says: “I don’t even have a TV.” Probably because he pays $15 a month for each of his two subscriptions for the game, as well as an additional $50 a month for faster broadband service. A monthly fee of $80--for gaming alone. It seems like IPTV gaming is a bit of a lame duck right now—it won’t be a draw for the serious gamers that are eating up tons of bandwidth on the data side of the triple play, but gaming could be the app that introduces early IPTV users to interactive TV. That’s one nut the industry has yet to crack, and is one half of the original promise of IPTV: personalized, interactive television. Buddine share this view of gaming too, hopefully the telcos catch on. Original post: Service providers with triple play offerings can learn a lot about their subscribers by keeping an eye on their usage patterns. One Tier 2 operator told me he noticed his subscribers include some heavy online gamers on his data service. He assumes that means interactivity features, like gaming applications, for instance, may be a good fit for his subscriber base because of it. While I agree a heavy gamer might be interested in interactive TV features, I doubt a die-hard World of Warcraft aficionado is going to waste time playing puzzle games on his TV when he could be online killing orcs. Is gaming a necessary feature for an IPTV service? The answer is a resounding no, but many in the industry still include it among the standard fare. I've seen a couple booths set up by gaming companies here at TelcoTV, so I'll have a chat with them today.