Xbox has been talking about bringing the Game Pass Ultimate library to smart TVs for at least a year, and it’s finally happening in 2022. The Xbox app will hit this year’s lineup of Samsung smart TVs and monitors on June 30th, allowing Game Pass Ultimate subscribers to play titles from the cloud with no additional hardware, aside from a Bluetooth-connected gamepad. Even a PlayStation controller will do the trick.
Some 2022 Samsung smart TV models already support game-streaming services including Google Stadia and NVIDIA’s GeForce Now. Samsung launched a new Gaming Hub for its TVs in January, putting these cloud services front-and-center, and the Xbox app is set to join them. Xbox is one of the biggest forces in cloud gaming, with more than 25 million Game Pass subscribers – though not all of these are at the Ultimate tier, which unlocks streaming capabilities.
The Game Pass Ultimate library has hundreds of games available to stream and Xbox has made it a point to release its big first-party titles on the service on day one. On Samsung devices, the Xbox app will support Bluetooth headsets and gamepads including the Xbox Wireless Controller, and PlayStation’s DualShock 4 and DualSense.
There’s no update for now on the dedicated streaming device that Xbox said it was working on last year alongside the smart TV app.
Xbox has more big plans for Game Pass in the coming months. Later this year, the company plans to add the ability for Ultimate subscribers to stream select games that they purchase outside of the Game Pass library. It’s unclear exactly how this will break down – it likely applies to titles that leave the Game Pass catalog but remain in the Xbox ecosystem, but it could include games from third-party distributors.
In response to a request for clarification, an Xbox spokesperson said, “Later this year, it's our intent to roll out the ability for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members to play select games from the cloud that you already own or purchase outside the Xbox Game Pass library. We'll have more to share on the specific games that will be supported via Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta) over the next year.”
Xbox is bringing cloud gaming to two new countries, Argentina and New Zealand, on June 9th. This includes access to the Xbox streaming library and Fortnite. Xbox partnered with Epic Games to bring Fortnite to Xbox Cloud Gaming in May, and it’s available to play there for free without a subscription. At the time, Xbox said it was interested in adding other free-to-play titles to its cloud network.
Over the coming year or so, Xbox plans to test out a system that allows for multiple profiles to play at the same time under a single Game Pass subscription. That’ll be tested in Colombia and Ireland, and Xbox executives are positioning it as a “potential addition” to Game Pass.
Finally, game demos are on their way to Game Pass. Within the next year, Xbox will start rolling out curated, bite-sized bits of upcoming games in Game Pass, allowing subscribers to test these titles for free and provide feedback to developers. The program will focus on independent titles at first, and Xbox said developers will be compensated for participating, meaning all the work that goes into building a demo won’t go unfunded. The demo program is called Project Moorcroft. There’s no word on if a Minecraft Project Moorcroft demo will ever drop, but it’s fun to say that regardless.
Time-limited, free game demos are one of the perks of the new PlayStation Plus subscription service, which will be competing directly with Game Pass. The new PS Plus goes live on June 13th and its most expensive tier, Premium, includes access to about 700 games in the PS Now library, plus cloud play for some games from past PlayStation eras. Sony’s subscription plan doesn’t support native streaming on mobile devices, as Xbox’s does, and it won’t include any new, first-party games at launch.
Sony received negative press in April after reports surfaced that the studio was making it mandatory for developers of certain games to build and release two-hour demos for PlayStation Plus Premium, with no apparent plans to compensate them for the work. Xbox, of course, made sure to highlight its plans to pay developers for building demos.