It’s always nice to kick back and enjoy some quality gaming time but not everyone’s gaming habits or skills justify the expense of buying a dedicated games console. In addition to which, there’s the release day prices of games – it’s not uncommon for even the ‘standard’ edition of a major title to exceed £50 – and the ongoing expense to play online.
Luckily there are some other options available.
Gaming on your Smart TV
Many Smart TVs offer both gaming hubs and individual titles, some of which will come pre-installed while others are available to select and install from the TV’s built-in app store. Often being free, these games tend to include classic titles such as Tetris, Centipede and Breakout, but newer games based on hit TV shows such Deal or No Deal are also available.
Play.Works, a company which specialises in developing officially licensed titles for Connected TV platforms, even recently announced a new slot game inspired by the music of legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix.
Dedicated streaming devices such as the Apple TV and the higher end Fire TV models often pack a lot more processing power than many lower budget Smart TVs and are based on the same iOS and Android operating systems that power most mobile phones.
The second of these factors makes it easier for games developers to port their titles over to the devices, meaning they can offer a wider choice of apps in their respective app stores than most Smart TVs.
Availability of games varies according to platform, but popular genres and examples include retro titles such as Sega Classics, slots, ‘Las Vegas’ and other themed games including popular titles like blackjack from an online casino, racing simulators such as Real Racing 3 from Electronic Arts and Namco’s Pac-Man Kart Rally and, in the case of the Apple TV, even first-person shooters such as Modern Combat 5.
In addition, Apple TV owners can access more than 200 titles via the firm’s subscription service Apple Arcade which offers games for the Apple TV plus iPhone and iPad. Available titles include Gameloft’s LEGO Star Wars: Castaways, Sonic Racing, and NBA 2K23 Arcade Edition.
Not to be outdone, Amazon’s Fire TV range can provide access to the firm’s Luna service which brings us to…
Cloud gaming allows gamers to play even major AAA titles through any internet connected device, including a Smart TV, without any need for a dedicated games console.
Several major firms, including Xbox, Amazon and NVIDIA offer their own cloud gaming services which each provide users with a competing line-up of titles which would previously have required a current generation console.
Because all the processing is done remotely and the game streamed to the player’s web browser or app, cloud gaming means the user doesn’t have to worry about the specs of their chosen device and can just focus on playing.
In most cases you’ll need to buy a game if you want to play it, however Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers get access to Xbox Game Studios titles the same day as release while Amazon Prime subscribers get access to a small selection of titles each month at no extra cost.
Cloud gaming is currently a pretty niche sector but it has the potential to eventually become a mainstream gaming option, just as streaming services and digital purchases have replaced physical discs for many film fans.
Although there’s still the potential for the deal to ultimately proceed, concerns about stymying competition in such an early stage sector were behind the decision by the UK’s competition authority to block Microsoft’s $68bn bid to buy game studio Activision Blizzard.
Game makers aren’t the only ones to see the potential in cloud gaming.
Samsung has made it a key feature in its recent Smart TV and Smart Monitor models where it offers a host of third party cloud services, including Xbox, Luna and NVIDIA GeForce NOW while Netgem is harnessing the technology to help its ISP partners provide customers with additional value from their packages.
As you see, there are plenty of options that don’t involve adding to the clutter under the TV for those who occasionally just want to kick back and relax by speeding through a few laps around a track, solving a puzzle or battling their way through an opponent-heavy location.