(AP) — Videos games on a TV monitor aren’t a new sight. But don’t look for a console nearby — there isn’t one.
It’s not even integrated behind the screen: This is cloud gaming, meaning that all the games are streamed from a server, which has the computing power to play them.
Samsung is adding a gaming platform to some of its TVs and monitors, which is able to launch cloud gaming apps like Utomik, Nvidia GeForce Now, Google’s Stadia, and most significantly, Xbox.
Users will need a subscription with either of those apps, a Bluetooth controller — and an internet connection of at least 20 Mbps, ruling out its use in numerous areas where broadband performance is too poor.
But for those fortunate enough to have high-speed internet, the gaming experience is meant to almost rival that of the “real” thing: The console.
“Some people couldn’t actually even tell (that) the experience (was) playing on our Samsung gaming hub (compared) to a console gaming. So, the experience is very, very similar and what we’re trying to do on our product itself is trying to open up gaming to everyone. So, people will probably already have consoles, maybe the consoles are installed in their living room and then they have the option to play maybe in the bedroom where they have a Samsung TV,” says Gus Grimaldi, Head of Product at European Services Business Office, Samsung.
On the Xbox app alone, over 100 games are available in 1080p resolution at 60 fps, compared to the Xbox console’s 4K and 120 fps experience.
On Samsung’s Smart Monitor, for example, users can simply switch from the “Media” mode where they watch TV to “Game,” from where all the games can be launched.
HDMI-connected consoles will also appear from this tab.
For now, the platform is just a gateway to pre-existing cloud gaming services, but could Samsung enter the race too?
“Maybe, you never know. We’re always talking to our partners. We’re always innovative. We’re coming in with a very innovative solution for our TV devices. We’re always open to new experiences and bringing people on board. So maybe that could be an option,” says Grimaldi.
The Xbox app is currently only available on Samsung TVs, but it’s unclear how long this exclusive deal will last.
“For a lot of consumers, if this didn’t have Xbox and, you know, in the first run-up to this, Xbox hadn’t been available, you’re sort of not going to pay attention. Xbox is what legitimizes this,” says Dominic Preston, deputy editor at Tech Advisor.
“The caveat for that is, from the Xbox perspective, they’re not only leaving Xbox only on Samsung TVs.”
While Samsung focuses on the high quality and low latency of its Gaming Hub, technical limitations are unavoidable, says Preston.
“So, streaming is just not yet at a level where it can be the absolute best that local hardware can offer. I don’t know if it could ever be because there’s just always going to be some element of latency,” he says.
Samsung Gaming Hub is available since 30 June to Samsung Smart TVs and Smart Monitors released in 2022 via an update of their operating system, Tizen.
Although the South Korean brand hasn’t confirmed it yet, rumors say that it will gradually roll it out to older models too.
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A subscription to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, required to play the games, costs £10.99 ($14.99 USD) per month.