Cloud gaming is currently one of the biggest trends in the video game industry. Google, Microsoft, Nvidia and several other big names in the industry are jostling with each other in the cloud gaming race.
Some companies have been more or less vocal about their cloud gaming aspirations, but others have been relatively quiet while conducting their trials and tests. There is however little doubt that the preparations are fierce, and a race is very much on.
Several cloud gaming subscription services have been in the works for years now. Here are the players who are making the biggest impact.
Though announced only recently, Stadia from the Google stable is one of the most-anticipated cloud gaming services. Google Stadia will use custom AMD GPU and Intel CPU hardware to offer an over-the-top gaming experience on a Chrome browser. Stadia can run games on up to 4K resolution at 60 fps, but requires an Internet connection of up to 30 Mbps. Lesser options: 720DPI (dots per inch) and 1080DPI with 10 Mbps and 20 Mbps connections, respectively. Stadia will debut in November this year, with several AAA titles expected to come on the platform at launch.
Microsoft Project xCloud
The xCloud game streaming service will also launch later this year, using Xbox consoles as the hardware. Xbox One users will also be able to get their consoles primed for free access to Project xCloud. Microsoft’s xCloud aims to get users to play Xbox games on every possible platform. xCloud users will also have access to all their Xbox games and services like Xbox Game Pass.
Nvidia GeForce Now
Nvidia’s desktop game streaming platform has been around since October 2017. GeForce Now is a game streaming and PC virtualisation service, which basically allows users to instantly access titles on Steam and Battle.net on a powerful remote PC housed in a data center. Nvidia GeForce Now is already in beta and has a library of over 500 titles. Nvidia also promises to upgrade the hardware, eventually switching to new RTX Servers to enable features such as DLSS and ray tracing for supported titles on the service.
Valve Steam Link
Valve’s Steam Link too has been a cloud gaming player for a couple of years now. Steam Link is one of the best and most reliable services currently available, and –best of all – it’s free. However, Steam Link does require hardware as it allows you to stream games from a home desktop to phones, PCs or tablets on a similar network. This means that you are restricted from streaming content on devices outside your network.
Steam Link allows you to use any device to play games installed on the host PC, by logging into your Steam account from both devices. Valve also has another game streaming service that is in beta testing, called Steam Link Anywhere.
Powered by Amazon Web Services, Parsec offers cloud game streaming on a pay-per-hour basis. Like most cloud game streaming services, Parsec offers 60 fps, low-latency gameplay over the Internet. However, considering Parsec’s charges (if you play 3 times a week for two months, $45.37, plus an additional $20 for two months of saved data – the equivalent of about Rs 4,600), hardcore gamers would be well advised to not opt for Parsec. Even the company’s website suggests that the service is for casual gamers - “If you play more than 8-10 hours of games each week and you want the best experience possible, you should still build/buy your own gaming PC.”
Shadow by Blade
Shadow is a US-based cloud gaming streaming service operational in most of states across the country. A Shadow subscription costs $34.95 (Approximately Rs 2,500) or $29.95 (Rs 2,100) per month with a year-long commitment. There’s currently no free trial for Blade, so we suggest you tread carefully. Shadow’s parent company, Blade is also selling an inexpensive game streaming console for $139.95 (Approximately Rs 9,700). The console is reported to be capable of video output at 1080p (144Hz) or 4K (60Hz) resolution.
PS4 Remote Play
Remote Play lets you control and stream your entire PlayStation 4 archive using a PC, iPhone, iPad or Sony Xperia smartphone. Perhaps the best part about Remote Play is that it is free. Sony claims all you need to use Remote Play is a PS4, DualShock 4 controller, and a minimum 15 Mbps connection. Remote Play is relatively easy to set up, and offers up to 1080p resolution at 60 fps on a PS4 Pro.
PlayStation Now is one of the earliest adaptions of cloud game streaming. PS Now offers a seven-day free trial and a monthly subscription at $19.99 (Approx. Rs 1,400). The service currently has a library of over 750 titles from the PS4, PS3 and PS2 stables. The games can be streamed to a PlayStation 4 and PC. However, PlayStation Now has a few limitations, only supports a DualShock 4 gamepad, and streaming is capped at 720p resolution.
Playkey, Jump, Remotr, Vortex, and Rainway are some more cloud gaming platforms that have an active user base.