Samsung is unveiling a new range of smart TVs today at CES 2022, including exotic features like radio wave remotes and support for NFTs — and they’re also the first Samsung sets in a while that let you play triple-A video games from the cloud instead. from just your Xbox, PlayStation or PC. After a vague teasing in October, Samsung is now confirming that “select” 2022 models will provide explicit access to Nvidia’s GeForce Now, Google Stadia and the Utomik cloud gaming service as part of a new “Samsung Gaming Hub”, a user interface that Samsung plans to expand into additional services as well.
The Samsung Gaming Hub isn’t just for cloud gaming either. Intriguingly, the company says your HDMI-connected video game consoles will be part of it too — complete with passthrough controller inputs. That means you may be able to play cloud games and console games with the same controller, rather than having to maintain separate controllers or link back and forth, with both PlayStation and Xbox controllers supported at launch. It also promises “AI Gaming Technology” that will create curated gaming recommendations on your TV’s home screen, which… okay, sure.
It’s interesting to see TV manufacturers embracing cloud gaming again, after a bit of a slowdown. While LG and Samsung competed for the rights to stream games from Gaikai and OnLive in 2012, and some Samsung TVs offered Sony’s PlayStation Now between 2015 and 2017, it’s only this winter that LG and Samsung are back in the game with Nvidia and Samsung. Google’s Services.
It wasn’t initially clear whether Samsung’s TVs will offer the best picture and audio quality for cloud gaming yet, as the company couldn’t say whether GeForce Now or Google Stadia would offer 4K streaming, but Google confirmed Custom Hour after publication that Stadia will indeed offer its 4K tier to Stadia Pro subscribers through the Samsung Gaming Hub. As for Nvidia, “We’re working with partners to bring their best levels of service to our platform,” reads part of a statement from Samsung gaming product director Mike Lucero to Custom Hour. “We will announce details as we get closer to launch.”
Also, if you have a previous Samsung Smart TV, there’s no telling whether you’ll be able to access any of these features. “We are starting with our 2022 models and are working to make the Gaming Hub available to even more Samsung customers,” Lucero writes.
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 Phil Spencer told us about in November 2020 is still out. did not materialize. It only got a brief mention before — rather than during — the E3 2021 video game expo last June.
Samsung Smart TVs have been offering a Steam Link app for a while, but Lucero tells Custom Hour it won’t be part of this Gaming Hub.
Correction, 9:37 PM ET: Samsung says GeForce Now, Stadia, and Utomik will be offered through the hub, but won’t be pre-installed on the TVs as we initially suggested. Samsung also adds that Xbox and PlayStation controllers will be among the controllers supported for passthrough.
Update, January 4, 1:28 AM ET: Added that Google has confirmed 4K for Stadia via Samsung’s Hub.