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Xbox’s continued cloud rise: Samsung TVs, more nations, games outside of Game Pass

While we're not quite to the point where Microsoft is releasing an Xbox-centric streaming device, getting an integrated Xbox cloud gaming app on current and future Samsung TVs is a start.
Enlarge / While we’re not quite to the point where Microsoft is releasing an Xbox-centric streaming device, getting an integrated Xbox cloud gaming app on current and future Samsung TVs is a start.

Microsoft

Ahead of Xbox’s annual “new games” presentation this summer, Microsoft’s team pre-launched the press with non-gameplay-filled reveal trailer announcements. So we trawled through a 45-minute presentation packed with corporate language to find news of actual interest, and unsurprisingly the biggest announcements come from the world of Xbox cloud gaming.

Starting this year, every “smart TV” sold by Samsung will include built-in support for the Xbox Cloud Gaming app that can be installed directly onto these TVs, just as owners could install video streaming apps. A Samsung representative has clarified to Ars Technica that this includes models already available in the “Neo QLED” range of 4K and 8K sets.

More places to play, more games to play

After installing the Xbox app, a compatible Samsung TV will enable Bluetooth device pairing and show step-by-step instructions for wirelessly connecting an official Xbox wireless controller, a Bluetooth-compatible PlayStation controller (both DualShock 4 and DualSense ), Amazon’s Luna controller, or other generic Bluetooth controllers. With at least one paired controller, users will then have access to the same streamed gaming interface used by Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers, which is currently available on Chrome and Edge web browsers and all Xbox consoles from the base Xbox One generation and up.

We were hoping to hear support for more smart TV platforms in this announcement, especially as Xbox Cloud Gaming is currently easily beaten in that department by game streaming competitors like Google Stadia and Amazon Luna. And we learned last month that at least one other path to easy Xbox cloud gaming on TVs, in the form of a Microsoft-produced streaming device, won’t be available for some time. But Microsoft’s announcement is a reference to an earlier agreement to bring the service to Samsung’s proprietary smartphone app store last year, perhaps to indicate that Samsung and Microsoft have an ongoing early dib agreement. Microsoft then suggests that Xbox Cloud Gaming won’t appear on other manufacturers’ devices until “other TV partnerships” are established.

The service’s international reach is also expanding starting today as Microsoft has confirmed that Xbox Cloud Gaming servers are enabled in Argentina and New Zealand. This brings the number of supported countries for the service to 28. As a reminder, users in these countries do not necessarily need to pay for Game Pass Ultimate to access the service. Fourteen days currently operates as a free-to-play game through both the app and web-based version of Xbox’s service, and Xbox officials have made it clear that they will offer more free-to-play opportunities with “zero money down.” would like to add interested players to test its cloud service in the future.

Even better news: Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer confirms that Xbox Game Pass Ultimate users will be able to play more games in the cloud “later this year.” Currently, subscribers can only access Game Pass games through the cloud, as opposed to games they purchased a la carte. Once this update is released, some, but not all, of the full Xbox catalog will be available in the cloud for Game Pass Ultimate subscribers. Microsoft hasn’t made it clear what the key disadvantage might be in distinguishing between previously purchased games that work in the cloud and those that don’t. (Personally, I can already think of dozens of older Xbox games I own that I would love to play on my phone via cloud streaming — and future game purchases I would select for such privilege on Xbox over other platforms.)

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