Xbox game streaming TV app almost looks like the real thing

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Playing games on the new Xbox app designed for TVs feels like a big OK. There’s no console or hidden HDMI streaming device. Yet in my brief hands-on demo, games like Infinite Halo and Forza Horizon 5 loaded quickly and – most importantly – they played well with both Xboxes and PlayStation 5 Wireless Controllers. And if you’re not a Game Pass subscriber, you’ll still be able to access Fortnite immediately through the app for free after logging in with a Microsoft account.

The app aims to provide a console-like experience for people who don’t want the cost and essentials of buying and setting up a console. It lets you pair a Bluetooth headset to listen to audio and chat with Xbox friends, and Xbox save data is synced to the cloud, letting you pick up the TV from where you last left off.

You’ll be able to experience it from June 30, that is, if you own a model of any of the 2022 Samsung TVs (including the M8 Smart Monitor and non-flagship Smart TVs above the model BU8000). The Xbox app is first launching in Samsung’s Gaming Hub, a new section of Samsung’s TV operating system that gives games center stage alongside media streaming apps.

In the Samsung Gaming Hub, you can pair controllers and headphones and easily access “recently played” titles.

Microsoft aims to deliver native 1080p streaming at 60 frames per second, and Samsung uses upscaling to improve how images look. Ethernet cabling in your TV is, of course, highly recommended for the best possible fidelity, but during my demo, the TV I was playing on was connected to hotel WiFi and did a pretty good job. If you’re playing wirelessly, Microsoft recommends connecting to a 5GHz router, which most routers are capable of streaming.

Compared to my experience using xCloud on my Android phone or browser, the interface seemed to slide a little easier, and – minor hitch cases and noticeable compression aside – it was a perfectly fine experience. usable, but inherently imperfect. It’s never going to be a one-to-one parallel to experiencing the latest games straight from a console capable of rendering native (or close to) 4K, but in the absence of a console, I’d be happy to use this TV app at the instead of loading games on a tablet or phone.

Halo looks, sounds and plays like Halo. I was able to line up headshots with just enough precision. In Forza Horizon 5I nailed more wild turns that I took while accelerating on the road. What I mean is that this app seems to be good enough to serve as the only avenue of gambling for a lot of people.

The execution is simple and straightforward, but it still feels magical that the game has arrived in this moment. Microsoft has been trying to dominate your entertainment center with consoles for 20 years, and for those who want it (and, for now, also own a 2022 Samsung TV), the best of Xbox will soon be available through a TV app.

Photograph by Cameron Faulkner/The Verge

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