Jan 4, 2022 - Technology

Game-streaming’s big year

Samsung's new gaming hub

Samsung's new gaming hub, which supports game-streaming services. Screenshot: Samsung

2022 could be a breakthrough year for playing games without needing to own any hardware that can run them locally.

Driving the news: On Sunday, the crowd of megacorps pushing game-streaming tech got bigger, as Samsung announced that some of its TVs will support the Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Now streaming apps later this year.

  • Those services let players run high-end games from the likes of Ubisoft or Take Two without the need of a high-end PC or console.
  • Utilizing a fast internet connection, players input commands via a controller, transmitting a signal to a remote server that is actually running the game.
  • The server then sends graphics and sound back to the player’s screen and speakers.

Between the lines: It’s not a new idea (see: OnLive in 2009), but it’s one with a huge array of major players now pushing the tech.

  • Microsoft: The company’s Cloud Gaming service now streams Xbox games to phones, tablets, PCs and Xbox consoles themselves, with support announced for smart TVs down the line.
  • Sony: Its PlayStation Now service lets players stream PlayStation games on consoles and PC. Now will be integrated into the company’s more popular PS Plus service this year, according to a recent Bloomberg report.
  • Nvidia: The PC gaming giant announced today that it is adding EA’s Battlefield games. The service also works with smartphones.
  • LG: The Samsung rival announced Stadia and GeForce Now support for its TVs last month, as The Verge noted.

Yes, but there are catches that will make this far trickier than the home video industry’s Netflix-fueled transition from DVDs to streaming a decade ago.

  • Slower connection speeds can result in lower-quality visuals. Worse, they can cause input lag, making games feel insufficiently responsive for some players.
  • Then there’s content. Third-party games are abundant on these services, but exclusive games that make the tech a must-try are rare.
  • Google, which made the biggest push to create streaming-exclusive games, bailed on those plans early last year.

What’s next: For gamers, the year is likely to be one of streaming epiphanies, as they realize that more of their devices can support the tech, if their internet is fast enough.

  • One key event: The release of major Xbox exclusives like the November-slated Starfield, which many PlayStation-only players badly want to play. Should that game also run on Microsoft’s cloud service, PlayStation fans will have an enticing option to sample the game there, rather than buy a $300+ Xbox.
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