It took a bit of time, but you can now stream Xbox games from your TV without a Microsoft console in sight. As long as you have a Samsung TV. The Xbox app is now available on Samsung’s latest smart TVs and monitors, alongside apps for rival gaming services like Stadia and NVIDIA’s GeForce Now. It’s bigger news, however, when a console maker — and its huge catalog of games on Game Pass Ultimate – offers game streaming straight from your TV.
I had an extended play session during a launch showcase at Samsung’s London event space, and it made me, a PlayStation gamer, an offer I can’t refuse: Play Xbox games from the cloud with no additional hardware, aside from a Bluetooth-connected controller. I can even use my DualSense controller because I’m that kind of person.
This will be familiar news to anyone that’s already streamed games with Xbox Cloud or Google’s Stadia, but, all the games I tried were smooth, with incredibly swift load speeds. Some early previews of Samsung’s Gaming Hub kept gaming media to familiar hits, but with Xbox rolling out the entire Game Pass experience, I got to test its limits with Flight Simulator, a game that benefits from speedier load times and avoiding those pesky huge patch files.
On a big TV, even while standing up, playing Flight Simulator turns into a meditative experience. Type in your destination for an exploration flight (or, easier on a controller, set your cursor on the world map), and just fly and fly and fly. That’s what I did, and I started to hate that I’ll never be able to do this on my PS5. I’m sold on the idea already – I just don’t have a 2022 Samsung TV. Damn you, Microsoft.
It’s not perfect, of course. Don’t expect 4K or variable refresh rates beyond 60 fps – this is still cloud gaming, although we get 4K streams on Stadia... The bigger question is whether Xbox’s games can stream on Samsung’s Game Hub, stably, for several hours on end, and that’s something that can only be answered after extensive testing. What if your connection hiccups and you lose that major progress made in Red Dead Redemption 2?
For now, the hub is limited to Samsung’s 2022 TVs and monitors, and it’s unclear exactly how Microsoft will deliver Xbox Cloud to other big screens not connected to its consoles. For Samsung’s part, its spokesperson said the company hoped to “extend the device coverage in the near future”.
Microsoft’s own streaming stick, similar to a Chromecast, seemed like the obvious solution, but the company said earlier this year that it was taking a 'new approach' with its game streaming devices, so that’s not happening for a while at least. It hasn’t elaborated further, besides teasing “a new approach that will allow us to deliver Xbox Cloud Gaming to more players around the world in the future."
That could mean a dedicated device, or it could be exactly what I’m testing today, the TV app, coming to more TVs. Hopefully some that already exist. Hopefully mine? Buying a new TV to avoid paying $300 for a new console seems more than a little circuitous. For now, I’m left waiting for a way to stream Xbox Cloud to my TV without a console. Barring some particularly laborious workarounds, it seems I’ll be waiting a little longer.