Xbox’s steady march towards a non-console-centric future continues unabated, with the company today confirming the June 30, 2022 release of an Xbox app for Samsung TVs that gives users a big-screen Xbox experience. while eliminating the need for a console altogether.
The app – which will be available for all 2022 model Samsung smart TVs – uses Xbox’s cloud streaming infrastructure and requires an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate membership to access. There are currently over 100 cloud-enabled games on Game Pass Ultimate, including all first-party Xbox titles (as well as upcoming ones like Starfield in the future). And although Samsung is the TV app‘s launch partner, an Xbox spokesperson said the company is exploring other TV partnerships to further expand the app’s availability in the future.
This is of course not the first decision made by Xbox to separate its console hardware from the Game Pass service. Access to Game Pass has been available on mobile and PC browsers for months now, and you’ve even been able to stream cloud-enabled games using your Xbox console (without having to download said games). But removing the need for a console entirely while playing on a big screen in your living room feels like a big, consequential next step, and further underscores Xbox’s shift in attitude away from mobile boxes and towards selling subscriptions.
This change seems to have the potential to happen quite seamlessly based on a recent demo I had of the Xbox app running on one of these new Samsung TVs. The app itself launches like any other app on a smart TV (on newer Samsung models it will be part of Samsung’s game hub, which is a new section on the TV’s home screen which brings together all game-related content and features), and if you’ve played cloud games through Game Pass on a browser or phone, the TV app interface will look quite familiar.
The experience itself went very well, with the caveat of course that the demo was quite brief and took place under ideal conditions where bandwidth was probably not an issue. I played Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite for a few minutes, and both games felt so responsive that it was hard to tell the game was delivered via the cloud directly to a TV without a console next to it. All the features of Xbox’s other cloud services, such as online multiplayer, cloud saves, and fast console-like load times, are all featured as part of the TV app, though the resolution caps out at 1080p 60fps. But as with all cloud gaming, much of the success of apps like this depends on the quality of your internet connectivity; with Xbox cloud gaming, 20Mbps is the recommended speed to get that 1080p 60fps topline.
When it comes to peripheral connectivity, the Xbox TV app supports a wide range of Bluetooth controllers and headsets (even those from PlayStation). For my demo, the Samsung Gaming Hub offered dedicated options for connecting Bluetooth devices at the home screen, and it was a fairly easy way to access the Xbox app.
The app certainly shows promise and is another indicator pointing to a future where cloud gaming will transform the way we play. But if one of the promises of cloud gaming was to allow you to take your game everywhere, then who is this experience for sitting on the big screen? Xbox product manager Harrison Hoffman told GameSpot that new apps like this aren’t just for new Xbox consumers, but for existing audiences as well.
“We know there are a lot of people who are interested in Xbox games, but won’t buy a console for various reasons. Maybe they’re not as hardcore, maybe they don’t have the cash to spend on a console upfront, or maybe they’re totally new to the game, and it becomes a good way for them to dip their toes in the water,” said he declared.
“For today’s gamers, it’s all about flexibility and choice. If you already have a console hooked up to your big TV in the living room, maybe you have another TV in the living room or bedroom, and that becomes a good way to expand your game. live.”
The Xbox TV app will launch on 2022 Samsung TV models on June 30, 2022, in a number of 27 countries.
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