Samsung has doubled down on game streaming by announcing that both Blacknut and Antstream Arcade will be joining their Samsung Smart TV line-up next year. They join NVIDIA GeForce NOW, Utomik, Amazon Luna and Xbox Games Pass. Most notably, these are all services that are available in one form or another on mobile, where they’re also joined by Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass.
Over the years we’ve seen all sorts of attempts at making it so that games can be continued - or contributed to - from a variety of devices around the home. From Dreamcast’s VMU, with its mini-games that you could play while away from the console, through the 7th console generation’s attempts at companion apps and Kojima’s save ‘Transfarring’, to account-led progress sharing. Samsung, who has a long history in consumer electronics in addition to the phone handset marketplace, bringing so many gaming services to their smart TVs means that even more consumers are open to being tempted away from single-device set-ups like consoles.
In 2023, will fewer people buy into Xbox hardware, or even gaming PCs, because they can stream so much to their TV or phone direct?
Big changes require big intent
A recent conversation with Microsoft Gaming CEO, Phil Spencer, over at The Verge, had him confess that a major factor in the upcoming (largest acquisition in gaming history) Microsoft x Activision Blizzard deal was primarily motivated by the latter’s King, mobile gaming, division. And, who can blame them? If Candy Crush Saga was slipped into Xbox Game Pass in some way, shape or form, then subscriptions would likely climb, and their current foothold on mobile would surely only increase. And, of course, almost everybody in the world has at least one-phone - arguably more people than own a TV, so it’s the biggest audience out there and the best way to monetise.
Alternative storefronts and subscription services have been some of the hottest topics in the games industry over recent years. While Google Stadia had entirely collapsed under its own weight, services like Blacknut and Antstream Arcade, which between them command over two-thousand games, are going strong. Xbox Game Pass, which has been available on mobile for some time now, and the mighty Apple Arcade (which recently signed a three-year deal with Sports Interactive for a superior Football Manager release) are massive services with established audiences, funded by tech giants.
The future of gaming
For some, this change has been quiet, but right now in 2022 I can play a game on mobile and receive bonuses from Nintendo, I can play Xbox games on my phone and continue the same save on other platforms, and I can beam an in-progress game from phone to Mac, to TV and visa versa. In 2023, will fewer people buy into Xbox hardware, or even gaming PCs, because they can stream so much to their TV or phone direct? Who knows, but I’d say yes,
2023 will be the year where those that are outside of the streaming and mobile ecosystems need to double down on mobile, Sony has just recently restarted the process, but will they do it before we hit the streaming singularity and independent devices aren’t essential to what we game, simply how we game?
When anybody can play games on any screen they have, the TV at home won’t need a console under it.