‘Now is the time for game streaming’: Q&A with Samsung Head of Product Management for Games Mike Lucero
Last month, Samsung announced the upcoming launch of its game centera centralized discovery platform allowing Samsung smart TV users to easily access game streaming services such as Stadia, NVIDIA GeForce NOW, and Utomik, in addition to live streams and other YouTube Gaming content, one place.
Game streaming platforms have so far struggled to achieve mass adoption, despite steady technological improvements in recent years. Dedicated gaming devices, including consoles and gaming PCs, remain the most popular way to play: Last year, 41% of gamers said they used consoles, with 37% preferring PCs, according to a Morning consultation report.
Samsung’s Gaming Hub increases the accessibility of these game streaming services, consolidating them into one convenient location for gamers with Samsung smart TVs. It was designed for console gamers, giving them the ability to use both Xbox and PlayStation controllers with the Gaming Hub without having to re-pair their controllers to a new device. Samsung smart TV users will also be able to access games on their consoles directly from the Gaming Hub.
The emergence of the Samsung Gaming Hub could be the tipping point for the widespread adoption of game streaming services. If successful, it will likely push other smart TV makers to devote more resources to the gaming community. Digiday spoke with Mike Lucero, Director of Product Management for Samsung Gaming, to shed some light on Samsung’s plans for the Gaming Hub – and how it fits into the company’s broader strategy. for the play area.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
What is Gaming Hub, and why has Samsung chosen this time to launch a gaming-focused discovery platform?
The Samsung Gaming Hub brings together world-class hardware and software that breaks down the silos that inherently exist in the gaming world right now and creates a single place that is a unified experience for gamers. We’ve made gaming a first-class citizen on our TVs by creating an experience specifically designed for them; Since gaming is, after all, the number one form of entertainment, we thought gamers deserved to be treated that way, and they responded very well.
The time has come for game streaming. It’s as if music and video have transformed over the years, becoming much more focused on streaming as the primary means of distribution. The gaming industry sort of comes at the same point in time, where it’s actually been tried many times, but now it feels a lot more like it’s in the right place at the right time. This is just the beginning; we have many more than we will announce during the year.
How does the Gaming Hub fit into Samsung’s broader approach to the gaming community?
Ultimately, the Samsung Gaming Hub is just one important touchpoint. Obviously, a lot of people play games on their TVs, and so it’s a pretty big canvas for gamers to engage with Samsung. When watching the story of a 10ft experience, it’s all about pressing a button and getting into your gameplay. So it’s a very simple place with a lot of scale, a lot of scope. From that perspective, I’d say it’s absolutely part of a larger strategy to bring the ecosystem to players and create a convenient new place for them.
More gamers play their console games on Samsung TVs than on any other TV, and they also trust the Samsung brand. So it’s a delight, if you will, that they can easily consume all of this directly through their TV. Obviously we have a lot of touchpoints in the game – personally I’m just focusing on the 10 foot experiencebut bringing the ecosystem to players is a big part of our strategy.
I will say we’ve built an affinity with gamers over the years – it’s not like we suddenly got into the gaming business. Our marketing team has been heavily targeting gamers because our TVs are a great gaming experience, and we’ve made a lot of investment on the technology side. So it’s not like we came out of nowhere; it prolongs the conversation.
How did you introduce Gaming Hub to partners like Stadia and Utomik?
Our affinity with the players is important, and there’s no doubt that helped to make the case. But what’s really more important for publishers, and partners and streamers in this case, is that we have massive reach. Given that we have the largest footprint among smart TVs on the market, this makes us very attractive, as the number of people we can reach and bring to their services through the Samsung Gaming Hub is unbeatable in the market. So that unique position is really what appeals to them the most, combined with the fact that we convinced them that the way our technology was integrated into our televisions was going to create a more capable gaming experience. Those two things were important, but also that we really know how to attract audiences and drive engagement.
A criticism of game streaming services is that they involve game licensing; they don’t always allow users to fully own the games they play on the platform. What is your response to these fears?
In fact, I would go back and say, what are we really trying to solve here? With the Gaming Hub, console users are also first-class citizens, in our experience — you can access streaming services, but you can also access your PlayStation, your Xbox, your Switch. So we respect all kinds of form factors and all means of distribution.
Ultimately, it’s an individual choice. And there are plenty of collectors who will still buy the record regardless; in fact, sometimes I am one of them. But attitudes change over time. Twenty years ago, you went to buy CDs, and that whole notion no longer exists. The whole notion of renting is just the way things happened. So I think over time people will decide accordingly. I don’t intend to make a choice for anyone, I just intend to give them a choice.
The gaming industry has seen good consolidation in recent months. What does this mean for the future of the Samsung Gaming Hub?
So I see two implications at the macro level. First, it’s clear that the platforms are going to be more appealing individually, in some ways. In the case of consoles, each console will have more purely console-focused differentiation; first-party offerings will continue to grow and make this brand and platform more appealing to this set of users. So there’s going to be kind of an aggregation around those platforms, around that first-party content.
So that’s the first observation, kind of obvious. The second is that it kind of highlights the value of having one place where everything is easily accessible. Let’s say all of this content is only available on Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo – that’s obviously an easy place to access it. But these are not the only players in town doing this kind of consolidation. As happens with other streaming service affiliate publishers we have announced, the same factor will occur. Thus, the notion of convenience has never been more important because everything is increasingly fragmented. The advantage of having a one-stop-shop for all of this is further emphasized.