Playing games on the new Xbox app for TV feels like a big act. There is no console and no hidden HDMI streaming device. However, in my short hands-on demo, games like Halo infinity and ForzaHorizon 5 Loaded quickly and – most importantly – they played well with both Xboxes and PlayStation 5 wireless controller. And if you’re not a Game Pass subscriber, you can still jump in Fourteen days instantly for free through the app after signing in with a Microsoft account.
The app aims to provide a console-like experience to people who don’t want the expense and hassle of buying and setting up a console. You can pair a Bluetooth headset to hear audio and chat with Xbox friends, and Xbox save data is synced via the cloud so you can pick up where you left off on TV.
You can experience it from June 30th – that is, if you own any model from Samsung’s fleet of 2022 TVs (including the M8 Smart Monitor and non-flagship Smart TVs above the BU8000 model). The Xbox app will first launch in Samsung’s Gaming Hub, a new section of Samsung’s TV operating system that puts gaming front and center alongside media streaming apps.
Microsoft is aiming for native 1080p streaming at 60fps, and Samsung uses upscaling to make footage look better. Of course, connecting Ethernet to your TV is highly recommended for the best possible fidelity, but during my demo the TV I was playing on was connected to the hotel’s WiFi and was doing a pretty good job. If you’re playing wirelessly, Microsoft recommends connecting to a 5GHz router, which most routers can broadcast.
Compared to my experience with xCloud on my Android phone or browser, the UI seemed to slide a little more smoothly, and — barring minor glitches and a noticeable amount of compression — it was a perfectly usable but inherently imperfect experience. It’s never going to be a one-to-one parallel to experiencing the latest games straight from a console capable of rendering native 4K (or close to it), but without a console I’d be thrilled to use this TV app rather than games download to a tablet or phone.
gloriole looks, sounds and plays like gloriole. I could line up headshots with just enough Accuracy. in the ForzaHorizon 5i nailed most of the wild turns I took as I sped down the road. What I’m getting at is that this app feels like it should be good enough to serve as the only way for many people to play.
Execution is simple and straightforward, but it still feels magical that gaming has arrived in this moment. Microsoft has been trying to dominate your entertainment center with consoles for 20 years, and for those who want it (and also own a 2022 Samsung TV for now), the best of Xbox will soon be available via a TV app.
Photography by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge