The Samsung Gaming Hub is looking to do something that has been tried, but they are looking to do one thing that really hasn’t: bring all the disparate gaming services under one roof.
We were able to have a sit-down and spend roughly 20 minutes learning about the ins and outs of the Samsung Gaming Hub.
First Impressions of the UI
The first thing that was immediately noticeable was how slick the UI was. I am pretty down on the cumbersome UIs that have shipped with both next-gen systems, and the gaming hub was such a nice take on what every other game company has complicated. My favorite aspect was the recently played games featuring games from one of the four currently supported services: Game Pass, Stadia, Geforce Now and Utomik. In the demo, they featured small icons of which service the game was last played on. Even more interesting was how useful the game menu was.
Another accessible feature is that you can use virtually any typical bluetooth controller. From the new XSX controllers and Microsoft’s Adaptive Controller to the DualSense to 3rd party controllers, each can seamlessly connect to the console. Removing the controller barrier is something that only PC gamers have been able to experience… until now.
Slick UI? Check. Virtually any controller? Check. So they’ve hit two absolutely necessary points… but it means nothing if they can’t nail the actual gameplay.
Get a look at the gaming hub in the below gif.
Thoughts on Gaming on the Samsung Gaming Hub
During the sit-down, we played about 10 minutes of both Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite, two games that require quick controls and a need for low latency. When playing, there was no perceptible controller latency or visual artifacting. I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve had pretty bad luck with both PSNow and Xbox Cloud Gaming with both artifacting and controller latency. This demo felt much closer to my luck with Stadia. It was smooth and didn’t feel like I was gaming via the cloud.
Our rep, Mike Lucero (Head of Product Management for Gaming at Samsung), explained that the service is essentially firing up a system that is running the game. Something that isn’t that far off to how Xbox Cloud Gaming and PSNow work. He also explained through collaborative work through Samsung and their partners, they pull the content from the cloud at 1080p, but use their up-res technology to supply a 4K image. Again, visually I couldn’t tell the difference from the cloud stream vs playing via a console.
We were told that the internet speed needed was approximately 25mb/s. That’s fairly standard for 2022, and there is a good chance your speed exceeds that by a large margin. Mike is a former Microsoft employee (as well as a former employee of Twitch) that helped ship various Xbox consoles, and you can tell he truly stands for the goal of the Samsung Gaming Hub: accessible gaming everywhere.
Another neat tidbit, which can be seen below, is their integration with Spotify. Much like its console counterparts, you are able to play Spotify via your tv while gaming. The only caveat is that this wasn’t available on the most inexpensive tv model.
Removing the barriers from gaming is a noble effort by Samsung and their partners in Game Pass, Stadia, GeforceNow and Utomik. The service shipping on even the least expensive Samsung models further cements this fact.
For the PlayStation gamers that have been wondering if PSNow (or PS+ Extra or whatever it has been named to) is coming to the services, there was no updated info on that. There will certainly be more barriers considering a big business for Sony is their TVs. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sony restrict their service to their TVs, but the future will let us see how that goes.
Will the Samsung Gaming Hub supplant the need for ever purchasing a console? Highly unlikely, and that is doubly so for those of us which still love physical media. However, I was sold with how seamless their implementation was. Their partners being onboard is encouraging and might just showcase what the future holds for an avenue of doing the most important thing: removing additional barriers to playing games.