When Netflix started providing a streaming content way back in 2007 we never thought it is going to be a major disruption in the online content sharing space. It might be because of that and with the blessings of cloud computing, avid gamers do not need to worry anymore about saving a big chunk of their income for setting up high-end PCs built on expensive hardware or buying a gaming console that becomes outdated with the advent of a new one.
Welcome to the world of cloud gaming! Now, you can experience AAA Gaming titles on your old PC, laptop, smartphone, tablet, or TV for a subscription fee by having a high-speed internet connection.
The idea of cloud gaming is based on accessing the gaming content from the cloud which is basically a nexus of data centres and servers responsible for delivering the content. Currently, cloud gaming works in two ways for users –
- Streaming games online by accessing a shared cloud gaming computer that lets you play a limited number of games from a library.
- Getting access to a dedicated cloud gaming remote computer and play almost any game on it.
The recent noise in the cloud gaming services market was led by Google Stadia that launched on November 19. Stadia is capable of streaming video games in 4K resolution on web browsers in PCs, smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, digital media players, and Chromecast. It requires users to purchase the games individually instead of just installing them. However, there are other cloud gaming services in the market that you can enjoy at the moment. Let us check out some of them.
1. PlayStation Now
PlayStation Now is the oldest offering in the cloud gaming services by Sony. It has been running for the past five years with over 1 million members at present.
The PlayStation Now platform can be used for streaming video games on PS4 and Windows PC for a subscription fee. Sony has recently slashed subscription fees for the services, which now stands at $9.99 per month, $24.99 per quarter, and $59.99 per year.
PlayStation Now is now offering more than 800 titles in its library that includes titles from PS4, PS3, and PS2. After paying the subscription fee, users won’t need to buy individual games as they will get access to the entire library for free. If you want to play games such as Red Dead Redemption, Fallout 4, or Tekken there is no other platform apart from PlayStation Now. Further, new titles are being added every month to the library.
PlayStation Now is presently available in 12 countries that include Austria Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, Switzerland, The Netherlands, UK, and the U.S. There is a 7-day trial period for new users which is included in the subscription package.
2. GeForce Now
Nvidia launched GeForce Now in late 2017 and since then it is in free beta mode and commercial launch is yet to happen. It is currently available for users in North America and Europe.
The streaming service in GeForce Now is based on a remote computer, which the users can hire to download and install the games remotely on a Mac (10.10 or higher), Windows (64-bit Windows 7 or higher), or an Nvidia Shield TV streaming device.
GeForce Now remote computers use latest generation hardware (probably Titan RTX or Quadro RTX 6000) that allows gaming experience in 4K resolution at up to 60fps. Users can download and install the games via Steam or Epic in it.
GeForce Now currently offers a limited library of more than 400 games that include well-known titles such as Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, Fortnite, DOOM 2016, Fallout 76, as well as Tomb Raider and Sonic Racing exclusively for Shield owners.
Since GeForce Now is in free beta, users need to apply to join the beta program. However, Shield owners have the advantage of direct sign-up to the service.
Shadow offers a cloud gaming service that works mostly like GeForce Now. It gives users access to a full-fledged Windows 10 remote desktop, which can be used for installing any games of your choice, browsing the web, and installing any software such as Steam or Photoshop.
Shadow lets you control a high-powered remote PC where you can enjoy the games at maximum settings and in 4K resolution at 60fps. The games can be streamed on any device such as a low-end Windows PC, Mac, smartphone, or a smart TV.
Shadow offers streaming services at a higher cost compared to others. Currently, a single account with multiple-devices access will cost you $35 per month for a remote PC having the configuration of Intel Xeon 2620 processor, Nvidia Quadro P5000 GPU, 12GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. The company recently announced three different plans (Boost, Ultra, and Infinite) for users starting from February 2020.
Shadow is available in the U.S. (six data centres) and Europe (two data centres). There is no trial period but users can enjoy the service for 10 days at $9.95.
Vortex works like PlayStation Now allowing users to stream games from a library of 100 titles that include some popular games such as GTA 5, Fortnite, and Destiny 2. Performance-wise, it is not as good as others and offers a limited number of games that can be played on a low-end PC. However, it is available at a cheaper price of $9.99 per month.
The most fascinating thing about Vortex is that it allows mobile streaming through an app on both the Android and iOS platforms. So, you can stream games to your smartphones or tablets very easily. Some games are ready to play while some others need a Steam account. Vortex has good coverage having 15 locations around the globe that includes, Canada, Europe, South America, U.S., and Indonesia.
5. Project xCloud
Microsoft launched Project xCloud as part of Public Preview in October. The service is in the testing phase at present and Microsoft is inviting gamers to register for Project xCloud (Preview) to be a part of the phase at no charge. The registration is currently opened for players located only in the U.S., U.K., and South Korea.
None of the participants need to own a game or console to register for the project. They just need to own a phone or tablet running on Android 6.0 Marshmallow or later versions (sadly no iOS support at present) with Bluetooth 4.0 or higher version, a Bluetooth-enabled Xbox One Wireless Controller, a 5GHz Wi-Fi or mobile data connection with 10Mbps download speed, and the Xbox Game Streaming (Preview) app.
Microsoft is offering more than 50 popular Xbox titles for the Project xCloud (Preview) that include games such as Devil May Cry 5, Tekken 7, Gears 5, Forza Horizon 4, and others.