Samsung was not something I expected to see showcasing at Summer Game Fest 2022. While there is usually a TV brand that will dominate a press event, it rarely becomes one of the most exciting things on the show floor. That changed when I walked into the demo for the Samsung Gaming Hub. Delivering a seamless experience and combining some of the best services currently on the market, Samsung Gaming Hub made me believe a console free gaming household could be possible.
Few reasons drive people picking up the year’s best TVs like gaming. There is nothing like seeing the deep blacks, HDR lighting, and rich visuals your Xbox Series X, or PlayStation 5 can deliver, yet few manufacturers take the time to put gaming as a dedicated area on the TV. You will find plenty of movie and TV streaming services, music apps, and even ways to use your TV as a picture frame, but very little to ensure your games are playing at their best, or the ability to stream the games should you not have the latest consoles.
The Samsung Gaming Hub is a major leap forward to address these issues. Coming in an update to the full 2022 Samsung range, the Gaming Hub is bringing a new way to experience games. Set up to be a TV similar to the entertainment service tab many brand TVs already offer, Gaming Hub brings all your gaming needs to one, neatly sorted location. You will have access to your HDMI connected systems, trailers and details about the newest releases, and most exciting the ability to jump into the plethora of game services without the need of an external box or stick.
The hub supports a range of options, including the DualSense, DualShock 4, and the Xbox controller, among others, provided they have Bluetooth. Once you are connected, you can play on a range of services, including Google Stadia, Utomik, Nvidia GeForce Go, and the long-rumored Xbox Game Pass. While this may sound relatively minor, since most of the services are available via a range of boxes or your phone, to see these all available directly on your TV is, to put it simply, a game changer.
The integration with the many services, right from a simple interface, gives gamers a new way to play their favourite games. While it still works perfectly with the latest consoles, and delivers all the features you would hope from a gaming focused TV, the services mean even people who may love games, or only own one console, but many TVs can still jump in on the action. The range of services also means you are not locked to one platform, and can dive in with a subscription you may already have.
The ability to hook up your controller, and simply jump right into Forza, Halo, or one of the many indie games currently available, is something that was simply not possible before. The fact that the Samsung Gaming Hub brings everything into a simple interface also takes away one of the many hurdles that exist currently in the game streaming space and makes everything feel connected.
Xbox Game Pass streaming is already a game changer for people that love games. It gives access to a massive library of games that would otherwise be locked behind a console purchase. But to deliver that, among many other features, and make it a seamless experience is something that sets the Samsung Gaming Hub apart from the other available options on the market.
In the demo being shown off at the Summer Game Fest: Play Days, the Samsung Gaming Hub managed to show what was possible when hardware actually talks to the brands they work with, and works to deliver an experience the user wants. It is one thing to throw together a menu and call it a day, but to ensure a level of quality and performance, and use the TVs internal tech to offer an experience that feels console quality is something else.
Testing on event Wi-Fi, Xbox Game Pass felt very close to what you would experience should you own a console. Granted, you will be limited to a 1080P stream (upconvert to native resolution), and you will experience a level of artificing, the responsiveness was something I did not expect, especially from a TV. Playing Halo the gun play felt fluid, showing very little latency, and the time it took to jump into the game was a matter of minutes. If you have jumped into a Netflix show on your TV’s app before, you will find things very similar here.
If you have ever used the Xbox Game Pass streaming before, you will know the library is not everything Xbox has to offer, but it will give a large sample to play should you want some gaming in your life. The integration with the service means you never need to leave the Samsung Gaming Hub to jump into your game or get details about what is on offer. Even with this integration and the level Samsung worked with Microsoft, they did not rest there and managed to bring a range of services to jump into.
“The Samsung Gaming Hub is fantastic, especially if they keep adding services, and expanding what the tab has to offer.”
Showing off games beyond what is seen on Xbox Game Pass, Utomik was a good contrast to showcase how the Gaming Hub can be more than a delivery vehicle for the major publishers. Showing off indies, with a splattering of more mainstream titles, the service now in early access was an interesting contrast to the powerhouse of Xbox Game Pass. Boasting a much smaller team based in the Netherlands, Utomik managed to impress with tight integration, and fluid and diverse gameplay. Bringing such a range of services only helps give gamers choice, and ensuring they all offer game experiences, free from lag, just means more games can get played, no matter what sort of experience you crave.
What was even more exciting, for me, was the ability to jump between the many services on offer seamlessly. It is one thing to jump in and out of apps, it is quite another to jump into the game experience as effortlessly as changing the channel. From the Gaming Hub menu, you can jump through options, services or even consoles, and it all feels effortless. I was honestly surprised just how simple the process was, especially considering how even some set-top boxes leave something to be desired on this front.
Launching with Xbox Game Pass, Utomik, Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Go, the Samsung Gaming Hub is something exciting gamers can jump into, delivering a new way to play the games they love. The range of options, a seamless experience, and the need for low latency to be available on the platform make this potentially one of the biggest game changers to game streaming since it first became something the average person could jump into.
Game streaming needs to be easy and accessible, and beside mobile, the Samsung Gaming Hub is the best and easiest way to simply play the games you love. Launching on all 2022 Samsung smart TVs starting June 30th, the Samsung Gaming Hub is fantastic, especially if they keep adding services, and expanding what the tab has to offer. It will be interesting to see if other brands follow in Samsung’s footsteps, but as it stands now, if you want the best game streaming experience on your TV without a box, Samsung is your best and only bet.