Samsung Smart TV: The end of console gaming?
Samsung has confirmed that it is introducing five Gameloft titles, including Asphalt 5, UNO and N.O.V.A., to its 2011 Smart TV range of LED-backlit LCD and plasma flatscreens, each accessible and playable through the company's proprietary Smart Hub - as previously revealed to Pocket-lint by the French publisher's Gonzague de Vallois.
However, the manufacturer is also in talks with several other games publishers to add content over the coming year, with Capcom being strongly linked. And this is only the start.
Speaking exclusively to Pocket-lint, content services manager for Samsung UK, Darren Petersen, revealed that as the processing power of the TVs improves, so will the gaming experience: "We’re initially launching five Gameloft games. And they’re really pushing the boundaries of the TVs to their limits.
"But HQ will be speaking with the leaders in whatever channel of media to push what’s possible for the next year. Someone like Gameloft will be working with HQ developers in order to really push what we can do," he said.
"So, this year you’ll see the fruits of what’s going on now, and maybe that’s not going to be perfect, but each year it’ll keep progressing. It’ll keep getting better and better."
And, as he explained, Gameloft isn't the only games partner Samsung is talking to: "We speak to loads of games companies and movie studios, basically everyone. A lot of it’s done from HQ, because they’re such global companies."
Although the UK may even get its own titles: "I have a lot of contacts myself, such as with Gameloft, for example, so we’re looking at things we can do [for the UK] over and above what’s already been agreed at a HQ level," he said.
But that's all well and good, 3D graphics and console-like gameplay does not a true console experience make. For that, you'd need a joypad, something that hardcore gamers are au fait with: "Of course, you can use smart devices like our smartphones or tablets, even an iPad, or our new touch remote, which will be a lot easier, a lot nicer," said Petersen.
But anybody who's tried to play with a touchscreen will tell you that it's not as accurate or responsive as a D-pad or thumbstick, so that's where third-party periphral companies may step in: "I guess you’ll see accessories pop up," he told us. "I don’t think you’ll see a gaming-type accessory form Samsung this year. You might do going forward, but probably not this year. That doesn’t mean, though, that others won’t produce those kind of accessories."
And as they'll work through your home network, they'll also be wireless.
Petersen also told us that it is only a matter of time before Smart TV games will be fully compatible with their smartphone equivalents. For example, play N.O.V.A. on your mobile device and Sammy's server remembers and stores your save point. Then you can pick up where you left off on your TV at home. It's not quite there yet, but other more basic forms of cross communication are:
"You will be able to have high score charts that are across the networks on some of the games on this year's platform," he explained. "You’ll be able to see how you compare against people who also own a Smart TV and play that game. So, it’s moving that way.
"There’s some other things you can do. For example, you can play a poker game on your TV, and you can use your phone, and someone else can use their phone, to hold your and their cards. That’s already happening in the States."
So, 3D-rendered and multiplayer games? Check. Joypad-like controls? Check. Network pollination? Check. Get that all right, and it could signal the end of the traditional standalone console. At least there'd be more space under the TV.
What do you think? Could the TV itself take over from the Xbox 360s and PS3s of this world? Or are you a dedicated gamer who would always prefer to have a standalone console? Let us know in the comments below...