We are officially entering the post-pandemic era, with conventions and trade shows spinning again after a few years in hibernation. Gamescom 2022 was the first event I’ve attended in almost three years, and admittedly it was a bit of a quiet affair. The booths and floor presence were much smaller than usual, but the turnout seemed no different, with some event days completely sold out. If I don’t get covid it will be some kind of miracle, but I digress. We are all here to talk about games!
gamescom it had a wide variety of games of all shapes and sizes, and I was able to check out several upcoming Xbox games, including Lies of P, penanceThe Callisto Protocol, minecraft legends, serial cleaners and many more. However, the first part of the coverage that I wanted to present to all of you does not refer to any specific game. However, I still feel like it was the biggest Xbox and Microsoft news of the show, possibly flying under the radar under the glitz and glamor of the next wave of shiny games. This refers to an ingenious piece of technology that is currently being implemented to Samsung Neo QLED 2022 Smart TVsand got to try it out for myself for the first time at Gamescom.
I saw the future of Xbox at the show, and I was inside the xbox game pass tv app
Turn your TV into a full Xbox console
The Xbox TV app was only recently announced during Xbox’s E3 (not E3) festivities, though it had been teased and teased for quite some time before that. It’s the obvious next evolution for the service, vying for attention with Netflix etc. It also makes sense from an end-user perspective, since Xbox games are generally designed for the big screen and not a small phone interface.
The app itself looks a bit different from the current list of Xbox apps available today. It’s perhaps more similar to the Xbox Game Pass app on Android or the web at a horizontal angle, distributing content across genre tracks and other collections, similar to popular streaming apps like Disney+.
Samsung NEO QLEDs and other 2022 TVs designed for this application seem to perform extremely well. It’s fast and smooth, leveraging Samsung’s powerful chips for both the app experience and streaming video encoding. In fact, my experience was pretty much 1:1 with what customers will experience, running games from the nearest Azure data center instead of a locally hosted server, using the congested Ethernet network at the Koelnmesse convention center in Cologne, Germany.
It was somewhat disturbing how close it felt to just playing on a new Xbox. The branding and content were obviously familiar, and watching that on TV with an Xbox controller plugged in, you’d be forgiven for forgetting you were gaming via the cloud. There are some drawbacks, of course. There is no Game DVR to record, save and share gameplay footage. There’s also no form of local co-op, as current versions of the TV app don’t support multiple controllers at the time of writing, though that’s a feature Microsoft is actively exploring to implement alongside partner Samsung.
Despite the drawbacks, there are some obvious advantages to running the Xbox Game Pass app directly on a TV on a smartphone or tablet.
It felt so close to the real thing.
I’m a big fan of Xbox Cloud Gaming and use it frequently in bed with a standard Xbox controller and my Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, mounted in a tablet clamp for maximum laziness. This frees up the TV for my partner to watch shows, while allowing me to try out random games to consider more serious gaming sessions on my Xbox Series X. The TV app has some serious advantages over gaming on a phone, particularly when you consider account the work that Samsung is also doing on its part.
On Android, streams seem to max out at 720p, regardless of your phone’s resolution. I’m not exactly sure of the reasoning behind this, but it probably has something to do with ensuring the video encoding provides a quality stream while responsive. In fact, a lot of algorithmic work is being done behind the scenes locally to process the stream and its inputs to ensure a high-quality experience. In general, on Android, I tend to avoid first-person shooters, as the input lag creates a strange feeling that while it’s unplayable, it tends to frustrate the experience when you’re used to something a little more receptive. However, the TV app provided a whole new dimension of usability.
It would be unfair to say that my experience with the Xbox TV app was close to what might be ideal conditions, given the thousands of users connected to Koelnmesse’s internet pipeline. To my surprise, Halo Infinite didn’t just feel native, it looked great too.
Speaking with Microsoft’s Harrison Hoffman, who is senior product manager for Smart TV apps at Xbox, Hoffman noted that Samsung TVs have some built-in features that further improve quality on the user end of streaming. The game prioritizes performance and responsiveness over its raw visual quality, but it ran very well at 1080p at 60 frames per second. Admittedly, there were some clear dropped frames here and there, but it never affected the flow and speed of the game. A few minutes into the experience, and it was easy to forget that I was playing through the cloud.
The TV app also supports in-app purchases, something the Google Play version doesn’t support, due to Alphabet’s anti-competitive store policies. This ensures a level of profitability for developers joining the service that Google (and Apple) would rather they didn’t have access to.
It won’t replace home consoles, but that’s not the point.
Ultimately, the Xbox TV app won’t necessarily be for me, or possibly even for you, dear reader. If you’re an Xbox fan, you probably already have a local Xbox console, which is a more refined experience with a host of extra features like Game DVR, local multiplayer, and more. The Xbox Game Pass TV app is ultimately about finding all those users who just don’t want a console or feel like they need one in their lives. It’s a minimalist’s dream and will help Xbox access a whole new audience of users who are used to services like Netflix and Disney+ as standard.
For casual gamers, you’ll find it hard to really tell (or care) about the occasional dropped frame, particularly in side-scrolling experiences that work best on video encoding algorithms anyway. If you are a parent who is not interested in learning the nuances of setting up a video game console for home use, the barrier to gaming is virtually eliminated as a result of this service. Giving a child access to games like Minecraft, Forza Horizon and Peppa Pig without having to jump through the hoops of an HDMI-based home console will help Xbox bring in a new and vast user base, perhaps most importantly among young people who might see Xbox Game Pass as the default way to experience gaming content growing up.
the genius of Xbox cloud gaming it’s the fact that it’s made up of Xbox console hardware, which future-proofs local gaming. As long as Xbox Cloud Gaming exists, so will home consoles, since everything is based on the same architecture and development environment. Xbox will be able to continue to package and sell home console hardware to enthusiastic audiences, while offering that same hardware repackaged as remote servers for a more casual audience. For those looking for value above all else, the upcoming Xbox streaming console will also bring these features to regular HDMI TVs, without having to deal with the high costs of Samsung’s Neo QLED lineup. And sure, it might be exclusive to Samsung today, but that won’t always be the case. Xbox Game Pass Friends and Family The plan will also extend that value and access even further.
The quality of the experience, the immensity of the complete Xbox Game Pass library, and the absolutely staggering value of the subscription fee is remaking the entire gaming industry around Microsoft’s vision. All games will benefit as a result of better access and more affordable access to hundreds of games in this exciting new market. It will also give console developers access to those massive casual audiences, without Google or Apple having access to in-app purchases. It will also give creative developers access to those massive casual audiences without having to pander to the gambling formats that Apple and Google prefer to promote in their storefronts. The fact that all these players are ultimately Xbox console usersin the cloud or not, it will also encourage developers to bring their titles to Xbox natively, as it is the same developer ecosystem.
As long as Xbox can run, Xbox on TVs arguably has more potential than even phones, and whether you’re an Xbox developer or customer, cloud user or not, it’s ultimately going to be incredibly beneficial. for everyone involved.