Cloud is one of the emerging technologies in gaming that hasn’t received enough attention yet. Part of this is due to the technological barriers that have prohibited its full potential, but it is closer now than many realize. The Samsung Gaming Hub isn’t widely known — for reasons I will unpack — but it is quietly showing the staggering power and value cloud gaming has to offer by merging smart TVs with gaming.
Understanding Cloud Gaming: The Next Big Thing
Cloud gaming is a type of gaming that requires an internet connection, but the internet plays a far more central role: the games are run on remote servers and the data is transferred to the player’s device. This is opposed to, of course, running games locally as we are used to doing. It is similar to how we used to put in a DVD to watch our favorite TV show, but now we watch it on Netflix.
Why Is Cloud Gaming a Big Deal?
- Accessibility: Cloud gaming means hardware requirements are all but a thing of the past. You do not need the best, most expensive setups to play the most demanding games.
- Low Cost: Linked to accessibility is the lower barrier of entry and the reduction of a need to upgrade hardware.
- Availability: Games can be played immediately without being downloaded and installed.
- Uniform Load Times: As the load times are not dependent on the player’s hardware, load times are uniform, which is an underrated quality-of-life perk for players and developers.
- Developer Benefits: Updating a game client is done in one place and doesn’t require each player to update it locally. Also, developing a game one clear spec is much easier than the broad spectrum of equipment at present, particularly on the PC platform.
- Improved Mobile: Far more powerful games are able to be run flawlessly on mobile and tablet devices, which make up the majority of the gaming market already.
What Is Samsung Gaming Hub?
Samsung Gaming Hub is a game streaming service available on all Samsung smart TVs and monitors from 2022 onward. There are no downloads necessary, no local storage, no consoles or PCs required, and any game controller (including Xbox and PlayStation controllers) and headset will work as long as they are Bluetooth compatible. Samsung Gaming Hub is free for anyone with a Samsung TV or monitor that has it.
It is worth mentioning that Samsung has a number of partnerships to facilitate this cloud gaming service. Perhaps the most profound is the partnership with Microsoft for the Xbox Game Pass which has over 400 games at the time of writing this, including new releases. Samsung also partnered with GeForce NOW, one of the pioneers of cloud gaming, that offers over 1,500 PC games.
You might ask why Xbox Game Pass, which has many cloud-based games, isn’t leading the charge in cloud gaming, and it is. What makes Samsung’s service so special is it is clearly trying to throw a net over a different demographic entirely. Those who buy a Samsung smart TV but don’t own a console and aren’t a gamer might find themselves bored one night and suddenly knee-deep in a AAA title, never to return to non-gaming normalcy again.
Samsung Gaming Hub Reviews
While researching this article, I read and watched a lot of reviews, some of which were thoughtful and comprehensive, and so I’d like to offer some snippets from two of them:
Pro: “Between Game Pass and GeForce Now, which can stream most games from your Epic and Steam library, you essentially get a built-in Xbox and PC – and all you need is a bluetooth controller. If this thing had Steam Link and PlayStation Plus Premium as well, oh baby, we’d be in business.”
Con: “It’s still not perfect, at least on a 100mb/s connection. I tested games on Game Pass, Luna, and GeForce now, and about every ten minutes the entire game will freeze for two seconds. Some might consider this unplayable. For me, it means I’m not going to play anything competitive like an online shooter…”
Pro: “The Samsung Gaming Hub offers more than just the means through which to stream games though (and this goes beyond Xbox, as apps like GeForce, Stadia and some others are accessible through it). Games streamed through the Gaming Hub can receive extra boosts such as frame-rate stabilization, optimizations, audio options, and more.”
Con: “If you live in remote areas, or hard-to-reach places, then streaming will still not be an option. The Hub won’t change that.”
I would offer more reviews’ pros and cons, but they echo the same sentiment, which is broadly: this is incredible, but you need fiber internet if you want to forget that the whole experience is cloud gaming. Rather counterintuitively, forgetting you’re using cloud technology ought to be the benchmark.
Cloud Gaming Is So Close to Dominance
If you’re a long-standing gamer, you’ll know how much easier things have got when it comes to playing games. Gone are the days when you have to drag yourself down to Electronic Boutique or Gamestop in the raid to see if you can pick up that game you saw in a magazine. Now, everything is a digital download, available nearly instantly. You still have to download the game, install it, and then set it up for your PC (if you’re on PC), but that’s a massive improvement nonetheless.
Streaming TV and films had an inordinate impact on several industries, dramatically changing the shape of how, when, and even what we watch. Streaming games will not bring about change in the same ways to the games industry, but it will markedly improve nearly every facet. As long as you have a fast and stable internet connection — a previously big “if” that gets smaller by the day — then you will be able to use cloud gaming on your devices in the near future. The limitation of a Samsung smart TV or monitor is short-term, but I don’t want that to detract from how superb Samsung Gaming Hub is.
It is criminally overlooked that within the next decade, “minimum specs” for games will be a thing of the past. Soon, gamers will be able to open up a client and pick a game they fancy playing like you might a TV show on Netflix — no concerns about harddrive space, lengthy downloads, or hardware limitations. This will have myriad knock-on effects on the industry, likely overhauling the business models games publishers choose to use. If you don’t like subscription models, you might not like where gaming goes next!
I have lots of friends who are not gamers, but they’re often loosely curious. For example, a new billboard game will launch and the majority of my social circle will buy it and hop on, and I suspect they feel a little on the fringes. Gaming isn’t for everyone, of course, but what has always pinched at me is that I think a lot of non-gamers simply haven’t had the option to get into gaming without a pretty sizable investment.
With something like the Samsung Gaming Hub, if you have the connection and the TV or monitor for it, you could find yourself on a maxed-out, AAA, cutting-edge game with consummate ease. That, I believe, has the power to spread this passion of ours to previously untapped demographics in the same way Facebook games did. What AI is currently doing loudly, cloud technology is doing quietly: changing everything.