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Microsoft is launching an Xbox app for smart TVs, which allows users to stream Xbox video games even if they don’t own consoles.

Microsoft said Thursday that it will first bring the app to 2022 Samsung Smart TVs and then expand distribution to other manufacturers. It’s a bold move for Microsoft, after Xbox hardware revenue grew 92 percent last year. The app will be available in 27 countries from June 30, the company said.

The move shows that Microsoft is focused on generating revenue from gaming content and services rather than just consoles, where the company lags behind Nintendo and Sony. Microsoft’s biggest impact on gaming came earlier this year, when the company announced plans to buy game publisher Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion.

Games are Microsoft’s fourth-largest product category, and the company wants to attract more customers to its Game Pass subscription service, which costs $10 a month and lets people play on PCs and through the cloud. Includes streaming option.

The hardware business picked up steam in 2020 after it launched its Xbox Series X and S consoles and people spent more time gaming while offices and schools were closed due to the Covid pandemic. But component supply shortages and the recent lockdown in China have affected Microsoft’s ability to build new consoles.

“We’ve gained global share for two consecutive quarters, and we’re the market leader in next-generation consoles in the US, Canada, the UK and Western Europe this quarter,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. ” A conference call in April.

But the general picture is not so rosy. London-based researcher Ampere Analysis estimates that Microsoft sold 7.7 million Xbox Series S and X consoles in 2021, while Sony sold 12.5 million PlayStation 5 systems and Nintendo sold 24.3 million Switches.

Gamers will be able to play Xbox apps with Sony’s Bluetooth-connected DualSense controllers as well as Microsoft’s wireless Xbox controllers.

By opening games outside the console, Microsoft goes where gamers play. This means serving mobile devices running Apple or Google operating systems. More than 25 million Game Pass subscribers can stream games from Microsoft data centers to these devices.

A year ago, Microsoft said the Xbox division was developing streaming devices for cloud gaming. The company won’t require gamers to connect special devices to Samsung TVs to stream games through the Xbox app.

“We have decided to move away from the current iteration,” a Microsoft spokesperson told CNBC in an email. “We will take our learnings and focus our efforts on a new approach that will allow us to offer Xbox Cloud Gaming to more gamers around the world in the future.”

Samsung leads the smart TV market with a 21.3 percent share, according to data from InformaTech’s technology research subsidiary Omdia.

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