Xbox Games Arrive On Samsung TVs in Cloud Gaming Push

What’s happening

Microsoft is bringing its subscription Xbox Game Pass service to Samsung television.

Why it matters

This service doesn’t require a console and is another step forward for cloud gaming.

What’s next

Microsoft is looking to expand it cloud gaming service to more devices.

Samsung televisions are getting a key new feature later this month: Access to Xbox Game Pass and the ability to stream games like Halo Infinite and Microsoft Flight Simulator without a console.

The service will come to all 2022 model Samsung televisions and will go live on June 30 in 27 countries. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate costs $15 a month, although you can try it for the first month for $1.

Microsoft’s expansion into Samsung television marks the latest example of cloud gaming, a service-based model akin to Netflix’s streaming shows and movies. The trend of moving away from physical disks and toward streaming games accessible across multiple devices has had its fits and starts – Google’s Stadia service hasn’t blown up – but it’s one many key players are banking on as a big part of the industry’s future.

“When I think about 3 billion people on the planet playing video games, and the number of people who want to play on a device that’s already in their home or in their pocket, that has to be a primary focus for us at Xbox,” Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft’s Xbox business, said in an interview on Monday. “Giving players choice…has been critical to the journey we’ve been on”

For Samsung, which already offers Xbox’s cloud gaming on its Galaxy S line of smartphones, getting a better gaming experience on its televisions was a no-brainer.

“That’s where the industry is going,” said Won-Jin Lee, executive vice president of Samsung, in the same interview. “It’s only natural to think about this, with everything moving to the cloud.”

Xbox Game Pass subscribers will be able to access the Xbox app through Samsung’s Gaming Hub. From there, gamers will see a familiar interface with the Xbox app, and have access to a library of hundreds of new and old titles, including titles such as Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Origins and Electronic Arts’ Madden NFL 22.

The similar interface for the Xbox app was important to ensure there was a consistent feel as players look to log in through different devices.

“We’re putting the player at the center of the experience,” Spencer said. “It allows them to feel like they’re a full member of the community regardless of how they come in.”

Gamers can use a controller from an Xbox, PlayStation or third-party vendor (Microsoft says it supports 90% of the top of controllers in the market) and connect to the TV via Bluetooth. Samsung will also support connecting any Bluetooth headphone for Xbox Live voice chat.

Microsoft has touted its xCloud service, powered by its Azure cloud computing platform, as akin to playing a game through a physical console connected to the TV. A quick demo of Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5 and Flight Simulator showed an experience with little lag.

Lee said Samsung, the world’s largest producer of TVs, added upscaling capabilities and removed latency to ensure a responsive gaming experience. He said both teams had to overcome early challenges around picture quality and lag before getting to its final polished state.

Lee added that Samsung was also working to bring Xbox Game Pass to older televisions, but didn’t have any additional details to share. He noted that if you can stream videos from Netflix on your TV, you should be able to play Xbox games.

Lee also noted that just 15% of its televisions are connected to consoles, and points to the large “unchartered territory” when it comes to gaming.

That’s a big opportunity as Spencer looks to tap those 3 billion potential gamers.

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