Earlier this month, Samsung and Xbox unveiled that Xbox Cloud Gaming joins for example Stadia, GeForce Now and Utomik as another game streaming service offered as part of the Samsung Gaming Hub, a new update coming to all 2022 Samsung smart televisions on June 30. I had the chance to participate in a demo to learn the ins and outs of the new hub and play Halo Infinite and Flight Simulator to get an idea of how the new gaming hub works.
As of this update, 2022 Samsung TV owners will have access to various media and gaming hubs. The Media Hub has been re-optimized over previous versions to focus on video apps like Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon. However, the big addition to the upcoming TV update is the Gaming Hub. In this all new section, you can access a special screen designed especially for gamers, especially cloud gamers.
Once you’ve paired the controller of your choice (PlayStation, Xbox, and many third-party Bluetooth controllers will work), you’ll be able to access your library of Xbox Cloud (available through Game Pass Ultimate), Stadia, GeForce Now, and Utomik cloud titles. Additionally, Xbox Live chat will be available at launch, while more chat options may become available at launch or shortly after.
At the top of the screen, you’ll see the games you’ve played most recently across all your cloud gaming platforms – at least the supported ones listed above. When I asked the Samsung team whether PlayStation’s new investment in cloud streaming through the consolidation of the PlayStation Plus and Now services means we’ll see it on TVs, the team kept tight-lipped and said it was committed to this. meeting on Xbox (it definitely feels like a bubble bath right now, as Sony probably wants you to buy their consoles and their TVs). Still, I love that if you have Game Pass Ultimate and rights through Stadia, those games from multiple services appear in the same “Recently Played” queue. Once you’ve selected the game you want to play, you can seamlessly switch to the service that allows that game to be played.
Below that row is an Apps and Devices panel, where you can access physical consoles and devices connected to the TV’s HDMI ports. In this demo, I see an Xbox logo appear, but the team tells me that if I plugged in a PlayStation or Switch, those logos would appear here too. Unfortunately, the games you play on your local console hardware don’t appear in the “Recently Played” row; the team tells me there are several technical hurdles to that, but the real dream would be to have one “Recently Played” queue for all your systems connected to that TV. Also on the screen are rows for recommended videos from YouTube Gaming, special collections that collect your cloud library into genres, and special game detail pages that direct you to services where the game you want to play is available.
At the end of the demo, I went hands-on, played about 10 minutes of Halo Infinite’s campaign and flew over New York’s Hudson River, landing at Newark Liberty International Airport in Microsoft Flight Simulator. It is important to note that at Summer Game Fest I was playing on a wired connection on a private network. However, based on this use case, the latency and resolution were surprisingly good. My brain took a while to adjust to the light input latency with Infinite, but after a minute I was wrestling enemies and taking them out with the same efficiency as on my home Xbox. Flight Simulator was of particular interest, given that that game makes such heavy use of the cloud to stream its data, even on local copies, and because it’s one of the few new-gen-only titles from first-party Xbox. The title handled admirably on the Samsung screen I was playing on, with only minor stutters in the photorealistic version of Manhattan I flew over.
I’m still not 100 percent sold on cloud gaming — I’d rather play a local copy of a game for better resolution and less latency — but the Samsung Gaming Hub feels like it’s on to something, especially for the crowd that wants it buy a new TV but can’t afford it or can’t find a new console. I’m not looking for a new television just yet, but thanks to the dedicated space specifically tailored to the activity I might be doing most on my current screens, I’ll be sure to give Samsung TVs a look when the time is up; and with the steadily improving game streaming technology, who knows? Maybe by the time I need a new TV I’ll continue to buy for that delivery method.
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