Samsung is definitely positioning its Samsung Gaming Hub as a killer app for gamers looking to replace their consoles with a smart TV app.
To that end, Samsung has announced that Amazon Luna is joining a growing library of cloud gaming services available in Samsung Gaming Hub. The electronics giant already added Xbox Game Pass to Gaming Hub earlier this year and our hands-on review left us very impressed.
Currently, Samsung Gaming Hub is only available on Samsung’s 2022 lineup of smart TVs and smart monitors, however. Unfortunately, this means that it is not available on the Samsung Odyssey G9 monitor, which is currently one of our best monitors out there. But the feature does make it onto the impressive Samsung M8 monitor, so if you do not need a curved monitor that is a great choice.
The good news is that while Gaming Hub is only available on eight smart TVs, one of those is the Samsung QN90B QLED TV, the latest version of the Samsung QN90A QLED TV that sits atop our best TVs list. That makes Gaming Hub a potential killer app to separate from the competition.
Luna and Xbox Game Pass on Samsung Gaming Hub
The number of cloud gaming platforms available in Samsung Gaming Hub is now up to five with the addition of Luna. Google Stadia, Nvidia GeForce Now and PC-Gaming subscription service Utomik also join Microsoft and Amazon in Samsung’s cloud gaming hub.
While we have not gone hands-on with Luna in Gaming Hub, our experience with Xbox Game Pass shows that Samsung’s app has incredible promise. The experience was nearly flawless. Input lag was not a concern, the graphics were comparable to an Xbox Series S and the streaming quality on Gaming Hub was as good as it is on any other device. As long as you’re not someone that demands 4K gaming (Xbox Game Pass cloud streams are limited to 1080p at 60 FPS), Gaming Hub has the potential to eliminate the need for a console.
Despite this great experience, there are still a couple of catches. Not every Game Pass game is available on Gaming Hub yet, and there are some issues with the UI similar to Game Pass apps on other devices — namely launching and quitting games. Also, we tested it with an ethernet connection. If you connect your smart TV via WiFi, your experience could suffer, though that is simply because wireless connections are typically worse than wired connections.
Best cloud gaming services
Back in 2020, we did a comparison between Amazon Luna, Google Stadia and Xbox Game Pass and Game Pass came out the winner. Some things have changed since, namely that Stadia has really taken a turn for the worse.
Stadia is probably the service to avoid of the three. Google’s first-party game studio shut down, there are constant rumors that the service has been deprioritized or will be killed off and outside of Destiny 2 the game selection can be questionable. At $9.99 a month, it's tough to justify choosing it over Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for only $5 a month more.
Luna also has its own issues with game selection — it’s impossible to compete with Game Pass on that front. But, what Luna offers is the ability to really choose what you pay for. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you actually get a selection of games for free, something none of its competitors can offer. Otherwise “channels”, which is what Luna calls its game packages, start as low as $5.99 a month. Plus, while Luna offers its own controller, you can still bring your own.
Ultimately (no pun intended) the best choice is still probably Xbox Game Pass Ultimate if you’re willing to pay the $15 a month. This gives you access to over 100 games on your Xbox console or your PC. You also get the ability to play games via cloud streaming on your phone, Chromebook, web browser — and now your Samsung smart TV. Pretty soon, if it has internet, it could play Halo, and that makes Game Pass a clear winner.