At CES 2022, Korean electronics giant Samsung confirmed that “select” 2022 smart TV models will come with a new feature designed for gamers. The new Samsung Gaming Hub will offer direct access to cloud gaming services like Nvidia’s GeForce Now, Google Stadia, and Utomik while also providing a unique passthrough controller option for HDMI-connected video game consoles – meaning that someone could play cloud games and console games with the same controller, instead of having to constantly switch back and forth depending on what system or cloud service they want to use at any given time.
The announcement came as part of a larger redesign for the company’s smart TV hub, which “puts content curation and discovery front and center with [users’] viewing preferences.” The goal is to use AI to better curate gaming options as well.
Microsoft’s xCloud service (included in Xbox Game Pass ultimate) hasn’t been mentioned yet as being part of Samsung’s hub, despite Samsung’s long history of partnering with Xbox on marketing endeavors and Xbox boss Phil Spencer having repeatedly teased that his company’s cloud gaming offering would soon be coming to smart TVs. It’s likely that Samsung will support xCloud but that Microsoft simply wasn’t ready to announce its official entry as it’s still improving the service for its users across Xbox and mobile devices.
Samsung rival LG Electronics recently got into the cloud gaming space as well, having announced support for both Google Stadia and Nvidia’s GeForce Now in December. Gaming has been surging since the pandemic began and it makes sense for smart TV makers to facilitate better gaming content integration through their smart OS platforms. It’s also a smart move for Samsung to attract more gamers as they consider new console purchases or subscribing to a cloud service.
According to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, while Samsung remains an incredibly popular brand, the company could do even better in attracting gamers, especially those who spend at least five hours each week playing games. While 57% of Sony smart TV owners play five or more hours a week, Samsung’s base is 10 percentage points lower, and a couple points shy of LG’s base. As cloud gaming becomes a more widely adopted way of playing games, a well-designed hub for gaming services could be an attractive feature for TV shoppers to consider.