Samsung shows off new barrier-free games for Samsung Smart TV

Samsung Electronics announced that it will introduce new Just Play games on its Samsung Smart TVs as a way to remove barriers to gaming.

The company continues to make significant investments in gaming to remove barriers, provide even more ways to play games and empower people to “Just Play” on their favorite Samsung devices, creating more value for owners and choices for players to decide how and what they play, said Mike Lucero, head of product management for gaming at Samsung, in an interview with GamesBeat.

For the third year in a row, Samsung is the official TV partner of Summer Game Fest and will be onsite with media and creators for Play Days following the Summer Game Fest livestream, which will air on Friday, June 7 at 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time. The company has been investing for a few years in removing barriers to gaming via its Samsung Gaming Hub, and in a partnership with Return Entertainment, it is revealing more today.

“Samsung has introduced game streaming to hundreds of millions of Samsung Smart TV, Monitor and Freestyle 2nd Gen Projector owners around the world,” said Lucero. “We’ve continued to invest in hardware innovations and introduced gaming services and initiatives like Samsung Gaming Hub to
address pain points from players. We are continuing to expand our gaming offerings, listening to
players and building better user experiences and gaming products.”

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A quest to reach all gamers

More people are playing games than ever before, and Samsung believes that anyone should be able to pick-up-and-play on their TVs without needing a console, controller, log-in or monthly fee.

While Samsung recognizes there is still much more work to be done, it believes this new initiative will
help it to better understand the behaviors, choices and habits of potential players who might not consider themselves to be traditional gamers by providing new and easy ways to play games.

The goal is to ultimately serve more segments of gamers on Samsung Smart TVs, whether they play triple-A titles or mainstream games that are easy to pick and play with a TV remote or virtual mobile controller.

Powered by Tizen, the Samsung Gaming Hub is an all-in-one game streaming discovery platform bridging hardware and software for a better player experience. Instantly play thousands of games from Xbox, Amazon Luna, Nvidia GeForce Now, Utomik, Antstream Arcade, and Blacknut Cloud Gaming. The Samsung Gaming Hub is the new home for gaming and entertainment with Twitch, Spotify, and YouTube Gaming integration that gives players easy access to enhance the experience.

“At Samsung, we’re in a very unique position to bridge premium hardware, software and services with an amazing breadth of content to provide best in class gaming experiences to the broadest range of players. We offer a wide variety of choices and make it easy for people to discover and play the games,” Lucero said.

Back in 2022, the company announced its Samsung Gaming Hub and game streaming services via millions of its smart TVs, monitors and Freestyle projectors. It has made partnerships with Dolby and brought game streaming services like Xbox Game Pass, GeForce Now, Luna and more to its hub. Now it offers thousands of games to its TV users, who don’t have to own a console to play the cloud games.

It has also introduced easier ways to jump in and play with the launch of the gaming accessory program for the gaming hub.

Lucero noted that the Entertainment Software Association’s recent report said that gaming accounts for a quarter of entertainment time among players. They’re engaged and they play on multiple platforms, which gives an opportunity for smart TV and non-console gaming to reach a wider audience.

Samsung can reach more people through TV remotes and mobile devices for game control.

“We are continuing to broaden our efforts to reduce friction to reach them,” said Lucero.

The Six

Results of a round of The Six.

That brings us to Samsung’s latest game initiative. As part of its continued gaming expansion, Samsung has introduced its newest initiative to give Samsung Smart TV owners the power to become TV players with the launch of two new games: Rivals Arena and The Six.

Through this initiative, Samsung has a unique opportunity to reach more potential players with new ways to play these games on select Samsung Smart TVs without a console, controller or subscription. People can now play simply with a TV remote or any smartphone.

“With our trivia game The Six and Rivals Arena, we can now reach more potential players with new ways to discover and play these games that can be played on Samsung Smart TVs without a controller, console or subscription,” Lucero said. “People can play with a TV remote or a smartphone. In addition to providing more gaming input options, we’re leaning into a path to access content through a QR code on their mobile device. It’s a smoother point of entry for players with no friction.”

You got it wrong in The Six.

Launched this week, The Six is a trivia game built directly into Samsung TVs. Anyone with a remote and a 2022 or newer Samsung TV can play today, and it will be coming to earlier models later this year. The Six is a trivia game built directly into Samsung Smart TV by Samsung’s own internal game developers.

Questions are updated daily, and Samsung designed the game to become a daily habit for anyone who likes to play trivia. Users will be rewarded with points if they come back. It is TV-remote compliant and it will be available on Samsung TVs from 2022 onward. Later this year, it will be on 2019 models and onward. More game offerings are coming next year, like a way to put a “game break” into an ad break.

Rivals Arena

You can start playing Rivals Arena via a QR code on your TV.

Vesa Jutila, CEO of Return Entertainment, is partnering with Samsung on Rivals Arena. Rivals Arena is a cinematic card game from Return Entertainment exclusive to Samsung TVs using any smartphone as a controller. Players can jump right in by grabbing their phone and scanning a QR code. It’s available to play now on 2022 or newer Samsung TVs.

“We feel that we need new kinds of solutions to tackle the opportunity. And if you just think about the scale of the opportunity here, there are a billion smart TVs out there, and only a small fraction of those TVs are connected to game consoles. So this represents a massive untapped opportunity for video games that we aim to unlock with partners like Samsung,” Jutila said in an interview with GamesBeat.

You can play Rivals Arena with your smartphone.

He added, “We had to rethink how to integrate games into the TV viewing experience in a new and intuitive fashion. With this model in mind, we have designed the entire user experience and the technology behind it from the ground up, allowing anyone, no matter their skill level or background, to start playing games on TV with zero friction with our solution.”

You can use your phone to scan a QR code from the TV screen, and then the phone becomes the game controller.

“You can enjoy great big screen gaming with no hassle, no additional new hardware. The mobile controller experience is a web app, which means that you don’t even need to download or install anything to your phone. It just works out of the box,” Jutila said. “Return Entertainment has also developed a latency friendly, low bitrate streaming protocol that offers smooth gameplay experience and amazing visual quality independent on your internet connection speed. So this is how we bring cloud gaming to the masses by offering frictionless access to cinematic games on TVs that anyone can play.”

Rivals Arena is a cinematic game built with Unreal Engine 5. And since it’s powered by the latency friendly, low bitrate streaming tech, it can be played with any internet connection. The game is a fast-paced card game where you try to beat your opponent by creating card combos. You can play it solo or with friends on the TV, or you can also play a two-player game on mobile. The game is live now and available exclusively on 2022 or newer Samsung TVs in the U.S. market.

The game has been out for three weeks and is growing steadily.

“We are on a mission to bring great games to every living room,” Jutila said.

Will Rivals Arena show up in every living room?

The game is targeted at mainstream TV audiences who are not hardcore gamers. Initial game sessions can be a few minutes but there is also depth in the game where you build out your card deck and can start collecting new characters. Friends can also play against each other.

The games are free-to-play, and eventually they will support ads. Samsung will also explore other monetization options, but not at the moment.

The company will promote the games on its universal guide, which is the media homepage that appears when users turn on the TV.

“We’ve got a strong belief that the future of gaming does not require console, controller, or login, and everyone deserves access to seamless gameplay. We’re continuing to listen to players to inform better user experiences and gaming products,” Lucero said. “We can’t wait to share what’s next. We recognize there’s still much more work to do to lower the barriers to entry. For gaming, we’re proud of the strides we’ve made since the launch of the Samsung Gaming Hub in 2022. We believe we’re in a great position to reach more people who might not consider themselves traditional gamers by providing new experiences games on their Samsung devices.”