The most popular way to game on a nice TV is with a dedicated console like a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X, but cloud gaming services -- which stream playable games over the internet, no console required -- are getting better all the time. At CES 2022, Samsung unveiled a new feature on its latest televisions that caters to cloud and console gamers alike.
Dubbed the gaming hub, it's a dedicated section of Samsung's new smart TV menu system launching later this year on select Samsung 2022 smart TVs. The full cloud gaming libraries of Google Stadia, Nvidia GeForce Now and Utomik will be available at launch "with more to follow," according to Samsung's press release. Users will be able to pair third-party controllers to the TV for instant play, no console or other hardware required. The hub will also allow access to YouTube gaming to follow streamers.
Built-in cloud gaming support on smart TVs isn't new. LG supports both Stadia and GeForce Now (currently in beta) on select TVs, Stadia is available on Google TV and Android TV models from TCL, Hisense and others, while select Amazon Fire TVs support Luna. Of course you can always connect a dedicated cloud gaming device, such as a Chromecast with Google TV for Stadia, a Fire TV Stick for Luna or an Nvidia Shield for GeForce Now or Stadia, to any TV.
Samsung's gaming hub also includes buttons that allow quick access to any attached consoles, and Samsung is adding a few new gaming-specific extras to its new TVs. There's a new version of the game bar first introduced last year, with more information available on things like refresh rate or VRR mode. There's also a zoom mode that can expand things like mini-maps and even the ability to pull up a YouTube video alongside a game -- a boon if you get stuck and need a tutorial.
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New for 2022, select TVs will have a 144Hz variable refresh rate -- a feature designed to take advantage of the hastiest video output from high-end PC gaming cards. Note that consoles like the Xbox Series X and Sony PlayStation 5 max out at 120Hz, so they won't take advantage of this feature, and in any case, the extra smoothness should be subtle.
Samsung will roll the gaming hub out to all 2022 TVs later this year, and a representative told CNET via email it would "share details about the roll-out to earlier models at a later date."