PC games evolving through streaming, cloud technologies
Samsung unveils ‘Steam Link’ to connect devices to its smart TVs
By Yoon Sung-won
In a tight spot between consoles and smartphones, the personal computer as a gaming platform is seeking a breakthrough by broadening its domain into new areas from smart TVs to cloud streaming.
At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2017, Samsung Electronics showcased its new smart TVs equipped with a new game streaming feature. By synchronising a new Samsung Electronics TV to a personal computer, users can play personal computer games through the larger TV screen, even when the TV and the computer are not directly wired through a cable.
For this feature, Samsung Electronics has joined hands with a U.S. game development and distribution company Valve Corporation. Under the partnership, the world’s largest TV maker has acquired the license to introduce Valve’s peripheral device, dubbed “Steam Link,” to its smart TVs and unveiled it at Europe’s biggest electronics fair IFA last year.
With this new feature, users can also connect input devices such as a game controller, keyboard and mouse to play games designed for personal computers.
Expectations are high over the introduction of Steam Link to smart TVs of the world’s largest TV brand, as it can solidify the position of smart TVs as the center of home entertainment.
“Unlike in Korea, smart TV users in North American countries are already accustomed to playing games using gaming consoles of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo,” a Samsung Electronics official said during the CES 2017 in Las Vegas, Thursday. “Reflecting such a high demand in this region, many visitors have shown interest in the new game streaming feature of our 2017 smart TVs.”
According to the Samsung Electronics official, the company’s smart TVs released in 2016 will also support this feature through a software upgrade while those launched this year will have it preinstalled.
The application currently supports only full high-definition streaming from personal computers to TVs. But a future update will support the ultra high-definition (UHD) streaming from a 4K-ready personal computer to a 4K UHD TV, the official added.
Nvidia, the world’s top graphic technology provider, introduced a new version of its cloud-based game streaming service, called “GeForce Now,” at the CES 2017.
With the previous version of GeForce Now, the company has provided the cloud computing software for its “Shield” tablet computers. But with the new version, users can connect their online personal computer game platforms such as Valve’s Steam, EA’s Origin, Blizzard Entertainment’s Battle.net and Ubisoft’s Uplay to tap into the high-performance virtual computing system through cloud networks.
This update means that users no longer need to buy expensive new personal computer hardware parts such as external graphic cards to play the latest games.
When compared to other cloud-based game streaming services such as Sony’s PlayStation Now, GeForce Now supports more diverse platforms and is available on personal computers and Apple Mac systems.
As Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang stated in his keynote address, the company will target 1 billion users who have given up upgrading their personal computer systems to play the latest games.
For the upgraded GeForce Now service for personal computers, Nvidia said 10 hours of access to a virtual computing system with a GTX 1080, which is one of the highest-performing consumer graphics cards on the market, is priced at US$25.
It is not provided through monthly subscription plans, unlike the previous version for tablet computers, which was available at US$8 through the monthly subscription plan, according to Nvidia.