Samsung unveils a new series of smart TVs at CES 2022 today, including features as exotic as radio wave-powered remotes and NFT support – and they’re also the first Samsung sets in a while to let you play triple -A video game from the cloud instead of just your Xbox, PlayStation or PC. After a vague teasing in October, Samsung now confirms that “selected” 2022 models will explicitly offer access to Nvidia’s GeForce Now, Google Stadia and Utomik cloud gaming service as part of a new “Samsung Gaming Hub”, a user interface that Samsung also intends to expand to additional services.
Samsung Gaming Hub is not just for cloud games either. Excitingly, the company says that your HDMI-connected video game consoles will also be a part of it – complete with passthrough controller inputs. This means you may be able to play cloud games and console games with the same controller, instead of having separate controllers or pairing back and forth, with both PlayStation and Xbox controllers supported at launch. It’s also promising “AI Gaming technology” that will create curated gaming recommendations on your TV’s home screen, which … okay, of course.
It’s interesting to see TV producers embrace cloud gaming again, after a while. While LG and Samsung both competed for the rights to stream games from Gaikai and OnLive back in 2012, and some Samsung TVs offered Sony’s PlayStation Now between 2015 and 2017, it is only this winter that LG and Samsung are back in the game with Nvidia and Google services.
It’s not clear if Samsung’s TVs will offer the best picture and sound quality for cloud games yet, as the company was unable to say whether either GeForce Now or Google Stadia would offer 4K streaming. “We are working with partners to bring their best level of service to our platform,” reads part of a statement from Samsung’s gaming product director Mike Lucero to The edge. “We will publish details as we approach the launch.”
If you have a previous Samsung Smart TV, there is also nothing to say about whether you can access any of these features. “We’re starting with our 2022 models and working to make the Gaming Hub available to even more Samsung customers,” writes Lucero.
It’s interesting to me that Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming, aka xCloud, is not part of this launch. Microsoft and Samsung collaborated prominently on cloud gaming in February 2020, and we got xCloud on a smart fridge and some Samsung Android phones, but the Xbox app for smart TVs, which Phil Spencer told us about in November 2020, is has not yet become anything. It received only a brief mention in June last year ahead of – instead of during – the E3 2021 video game show.
Samsung Smart TVs have been offering a Steam Link app for a while, but Lucero tells The edge it will not be a part of this Gaming Hub.
Correction, 21:37 ET: Samsung says that GeForce Now, Stadia and Utomik will be offered via the hub, but will not come pre-installed on the TVs, as we originally suggested. Samsung also adds that Xbox and PlayStation controllers will be among those supported for passthrough.