The future of gaming is almost certainly in the cloud. PlayStation Now, Microsoft Project xCloud, GeForce Now, and Google Stadia are all the most prominent cloud gaming services available today. These services bring the latest games to your phone, TV or PC without the need for a console (PS4, XBOX) or a Gaming PC.
What is Cloud Gaming?
Traditionally, gaming required high and expensive hardware. Like PS4, XBOX, Nintendo Switch or gaming laptops like Lenovo Legion, Asus ROG.
With cloud gaming, this is no longer necessary. Instead, the games will be streamed directly to your device via the internet, almost like watching movies on Netflix. The only thing you need to make sure of is to have a fast internet connection; the faster, the better.
Cloud gaming allows users to play games on any device. It could be a phone or a tablet, laptop or PC. Even Mac users can play games that have nothing to do with Apple’s platform.
Cloud gaming services now operate every month. Some of them are free to play, while others require specialized equipment. Most games can be played on many different devices.
Shadow is a cloud gaming platform with dedicated storage. Shadow is launching in mid-2020. Your games and progress on Steam, Epic, Uplay, Battle.net, Origin, GOG and more can all connect to Shadow.
This large number of links, along with support for dozens of devices and operating systems, is what sets Shadow apart from other platforms (at $11.99/month). Shadow can run on Windows 7 or later, macOS 10.10 or later, Ubuntu 18.04 or and Android 5.0+, iOS 11.0+, Android TV, and Apple TV.
Stable connection with large bandwidth, real-time statistics provided during gameplay, along with a large game library, will never let you get bored.
Shadow’s only downside is the higher price tag than GeForce Now, PlayStation Now, or Google Stadia.
GeForce Now is a cloud gaming service developed by Nvidia for Windows, macOS, SHIELD TV and Android devices.
GeForce Now gives you access to your existing game library on your Steam account, Origin, and other distribution platforms for PC. These games will then be streamed to devices running GeForce Now.
Currently, GeForce Now is only released in North America and Europe, with two levels: Free (free) and Founders (paid). Free members get standard access with one-hour sessions, while paid members for $5/month get priority access and extended sessions (up to 6 hours). Paid members will also get to play on RTX graphics cards and some other advanced options.
For a monthly subscription of $9.99, you can play hundreds of PS4, PS3, PS2 games on demand with PlayStation Now.
There are now more than 900 games that can be streamed to PS4 or PC. Simply connect your Dualshock 4 controller via USB, install the PlayStation Now app on Windows and you’re good to go!
If you’re worried about the cost, PlayStation Now offers a free trial. With a library of quality games like Uncharted: The Lost Legacy and Horizon Zero Dawn.
New games are added by PlayStation Now every month.
Launched in late 2019, Stadia is a Google product with impressive features like 4K and 60FPS gaming, two free games per month for subscribers.
Initially, Google promised Stadia would offer the same service as Netflix, you pay a monthly fee and play unlimited games for free. But the reality is not like that: users still have to buy each game separately if they want to play.
Note that if you want to play games on your TV, you’ll need the Google Chromecast Ultra. If playing on a phone, that phone must be running Android and be on the list of supported devices. On PC, you need to install Chrome browser.
Stadia Pro’s monthly fee is $10, with the first month of a free trial.
Developed by Microsoft, Project xCloud provides the ability to play Xbox titles on phones or tablets.
All you need to play games on this service is an Xbox controller and Android 6.0+ phone with Bluetooth 4.0+ support, 10Mbps internet and a 5Ghz Wi-Fi router.
Project xCloud is expected to officially launch at the end of 2020. Currently, the new xCloud project is in preview. You can sign up for a trial at the project’s homepage, if you’re lucky enough, you can be chosen to become a free trial user of this service, with more than 50 titles available and still being updated.
Vortex is a cloud service created to deliver the best PC games. Vortex works on Android, Windows 10, and macOS.
Currently, Vortex has three paid packages including:
- Basic: for $9.99, you can play 82 games and 50 hours/month.
- Pro: for $19.99, you can play 181 games and 80 hours/month.
- Ultra: priced at $29.99, offers 181 games and 140 hours/month.
You will need an internet network with a 10Mbps connection and a 5Ghz Wi-Fi router to use Vortex. 4G/LTE mobile internet is also supported.
Amazon Luna is a cloud service developed by the giant Amazon. Luna was first introduced on September 24, 2020 with some lucky users getting early access from October 20, 2020.
Amazon Luna supports over 100 titles at launch, with prices falling at $5.99 a month. Luna is integrated with Twitch (also part of Amazon) and will be available on PC, Mac, Amazon Fire TV, and iOS at launch, as well as Android shortly after. Amazon also partnered with Ubisoft to create its own game channel to give users access to Ubisoft titles.
The game streaming platform you choose may depend on the devices you own. PlayStation and Xbox fans will probably enjoy their current ecosystem, while PC users can opt for GeForce Now. While Google Stadia is arguably providing the best experience, it can be difficult to use.