While many people download games or purchase physical copies today, cloud gaming is on the rise. With cloud gaming, you don’t need a powerful computer that costs thousands of dollars. All you need is a stable internet connection, and you’re good to go.
With many rightfully seeing cloud gaming as the future, various services compete against each other and traditional platforms. Below are some of the best examples to keep an eye on.
What Is Cloud Gaming?
Unlike platforms such as Steam, which require digital downloads, cloud gaming uses remote computers for player connections.
Steam games run on your PC’s hardware, and you may not have the strongest GPU and CPU for the job. However, cloud gaming lets users connect to other PCs and control them through the internet. Imagine remote tech support, but you’re playing “Devil May Cry 5” instead. After purchasing a subscription, you can choose from a wide selection of titles.
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You don’t need a powerful PC or extra storage space for games, especially if you want to play AAA titles. These games tend to occupy large amounts of storage space. Some users don’t have the memory left for games, making cloud gaming an excellent choice.
Some cloud gaming services are cross-platform, supporting mobile devices and laptops. There are even cases of people gaming on Linux PCs.
Cloud gaming does require a stable internet connection, and there will always be some delay. Even so, its supporters cite convenience as the advantage that convinced them.
Cloud gaming services are usually on PC, but several are designed for consoles like the Xbox and PlayStation. Depending on the product, you can even play on different devices.
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NVIDIA GeForce Now
The graphics card giant’s dedicated cloud gaming service grows daily. GeForce Now is geared towards gamers who already own large Steam libraries, but it also works with other launchers.
- Epic Games Store
- Ubisoft Connect
Many free-to-play games already work with GeForce Now, but the list of supported titles, paid or not, is expanding. You only have to buy a supported game in one of these stores and connect it to GeForce Now.
You can use GeForce now on these platforms:
- Chrome on PC and Apple devices
- Microsoft Edge
- Some TVs
- TVs with NVIDIA Shield
- Valve Steam Deck
- Xbox with a browser
With so many supported devices, it’s no wonder many people consider GeForce Now the king of cloud gaming. It starts at free though you can purchase subscriptions for more gaming hours. The costlier plans even let you turn ray tracing on and give you priority access.
PlayStation Plus Premium
PlayStation Plus Premium is the world’s oldest cloud gaming service, though it falls behind compared to many rivals. It’s also the only one for the PlayStation consoles, though you can stream games to a PC.
While you can access an extensive catalog of PS4 and PS5 games on the consoles themselves, only a small subset are streamable to your gaming PC. Many commonly acknowledge that PlayStation Plus Premium is more for the consoles than anything else.
Day One availability isn’t a thing for this cloud gaming service. Many titles get added later, which turns some gamers off.
While not the best, it’s the only option for PS4 and PS5 owners, so it gets a spot on this list.
Amazon Luna is a relatively young competitor in the cloud gaming sector, though it seems unusually neglected by the parent company. There’s plenty of promotional material for the dedicated Luna Controller, but it’s not compulsory to game with one. Amazon Luna is an app that you can install on these devices:
- Fire TV
- Fire tablets
- Browsers on computers and mobile devices
Amazon modeled Luna after Prime Video, meaning you’ll have to fork over more money for games. The choices are also slightly baffling since there are more kid-friendly titles than the AAA titles people want.
The parental controls make Luna a family-friendly cloud gaming platform, but that’s not all. Since Amazon owns Twitch, you can get Prime Gaming’s perks and rewards. You get a Prime subscription with Luna, so you lose nothing.
Technically, Shadow is a cloud computing service, but its terms of service don’t prevent customers from gaming on its machines. Shadow’s PCs have high-end specs and run practically any Windows-based app, including AAA games. It works using an app you only have to log in to before installing games.
The company even allows users to adjust the settings just like using their own gaming rigs. The stream is smooth, while input lag is lower than expected. While the monthly subscription is costlier, you’re getting high-quality hardware and treatment.
If you’re unsatisfied with the base subscription, there’s a Power add-on for superior hardware and even 4K. You can even enable ray-tracing on supported games.
Shadow offers extra storage as an optional add-on. It’s very affordable, and you get 256GB each purchase.
Shadow is compatible with the following platforms:
- Smart TVs running Android or macOS
- Meta Quest 1 and Quest 2 VR headsets
Since you’re renting a computer, Shadow requires users to download games. However, it has a 1GB bandwidth for downloads, and games are ready in no time.
All files installed on a Shadow cloud PC are secured for privacy. You can rest assured no one will peek at your private information.
Blacknut is an alternative to competitors like Amazon Luna and GeForce Now. Every month, new games are added to its extensive collection, which has reached at least 500 titles. Don’t worry. You have access to AAA titles and more.
Every Blacknut subscription allows users to create five accounts maximum, including child accounts. You have access to parental control that limits children’s access to games.
Here are all of Blacknut’s supported platforms:
- Fire TVs
When you purchase a subscription, you get unlimited access to all the available titles. Blacknut also aims for a family-friendly platform with no ads, making the experience seamless. The subscription doesn’t have a contract. Nothing is holding you back from trying it out.
While the library is extensive, it’s not the best option for professional streamers. Some key titles are missing, but with its steady growth, they might eventually be added to the library.
Unlike some cloud gaming services, Rainway uses your PC as the host. It streams games to your other devices. Therefore, pro gamers with powerful rigs can play anywhere with an internet connection.
The list of compatible devices is as follows.
- Browsers on other devices
- Smart TVs
- Mac (currently in beta-testing)
Rainway is compatible with all major launchers and game stores like Steam, Epic Games Launcher, and even some you may not know. Once the app is installed on a device, you can immediately pick up where you left off. What’s more, the service is entirely free with no ads.
Rainway has excellent stream quality compared to other products, but you’ll need a reliable Wi-Fi connection to enjoy the best experience.
Years ago, browser games were popular and resulted in a large fanbase. While Adobe Flash is discontinued, you can play games in your browser with Boosteroid. With a subscription, all you need to do is log in and start gaming.
Boosteroid works with popular internet browsers, so anything that can handle one will let you game on it. It translates touch input into the original control schemes accurately. You can customize a Virtual Keyboard and ensure everything is to your liking.
The company has partnerships with companies like NVIDIA and Intel, allowing FHD streams with 15Mbps connections.
One major weakness is the service’s vulnerability to sudden frame drops and lag. As a browser-based service, it can’t handle packets as a dedicated program can.
Nevertheless, Boosteroid is a convenient cloud gaming service that you can trust.
Game on the Go
Cloud gaming may not be the most widespread phenomenon yet, but its technology is only improving. In the future, input lag and stutters will be reduced immensely. Players will feel like they’re gaming natively on the device itself.
Which of these services do you think is the best? Do you know of other cloud gaming platforms? Let us know in the comment section below.