If you are a video game enthusiast, you are probably aware that to enjoy your favorite games, you will probably need to invest in a high-performance computer with a super-powerful processor and graphics card. But what if you discover that there is another modality of gaming — called cloud gaming — which is more accessible, practical, and even, more affordable?
What is cloud gaming?
Cloud gaming is a type of online gaming that allows direct or on-demand streaming of games from a powerful remote server to an electronic device, such as a computer, mini PC, console, laptop, phone, tablet, or a thin-client device. With cloud gaming, you can play anywhere a network allows, not just at home. In addition, cloud gaming opens many more accessibility options, eliminating the need to download and install games on the device you are playing on. When you play in the cloud, you access the game of your choice remotely via streaming while the remote server handles the intensive tasks. Keep in mind that for a lag-free experience and for the games to run as smoothly as possible, you will need a reliable high-speed Internet connection.
Thanks to this alternative, there is no need for expensive hardware or to spend a lot of money on different consoles. Now, anyone with an Internet connection will be able to remotely run graphically demanding video games on any type of device including mini PCs.
How does cloud gaming work?
The game is stored, executed, and processed remotely on the provider’s dedicated hardware. Therefore, when you want to play and access these games, you will need to establish a connection to a powerful server, which is where the game actually runs. This means that every action you perform with the controller, mouse, or keyboard will be sent over the Internet, and you will receive a livestream of what is happening on the remote computer over the network. In simple terms, when playing from the cloud, you will see and interact with everything locally on your device in real-time while the game is being processed and played on the remote server. This may sound like a long process, but the reality is it happens in milliseconds.
Cloud games do not require installation since they are installed on the servers of the service provider. There are some services that allow you to download them to reduce loading times, but when you stop paying for the subscription, the games will be inaccessible until you decide to resume the service. Unlike when you buy a physical or digital video game, in which you pay for the game to be yours and access it whenever you want, and for as long as you want, the video game in the cloud does not belong to you. Following a subscription based model, you pay a monthly fee but can enjoy thousands of games from your service provider.
Now that you know what it is and how it works, the first thing you need to get started in the world of cloud gaming is an electronic device, as well as a reliable and high-speed Internet connection, and, finally, a subscription to a cloud gaming service.
There are many alternatives to choose from; you just have to pick your favorite!
What kinds of cloud gaming services are there?
Multiple online gaming services are currently available. We’ll introduce you to four of the best and most popular cloud gaming platforms and everything you need to know about them:
PlayStation™ Plus (formerly PlayStation™ Now)
In June 2022, PlayStation Now merged with PlayStation Plus and is no longer available as a standalone subscription. PlayStation Plus, Sony’s cloud-based video game platform, offers a catalog of hundreds of classic and new games, limited-time trials, online multiplayer, exclusive discounts, and more. In contrast to its predecessor, PlayStation Plus has three subscription plans to choose from (Essential, Extra, and Premium), with the option to access them whenever you want via PS4, PS4 Pro, PS5, or Windows PC.
Note: For current PlayStation Now subscribers, once the subscription service change becomes effective in their area, they can expect an automatic switch to a PlayStation Plus plan.
Stadia™ provides access to an entire library of games that expands monthly, in addition to the option to buy extra titles at discounted prices. Play your favorite games in 4K resolution directly from the Chrome browser, whether they are accessed from a Windows desktop PC, laptop, Mac, Android smartphone, or tablet, or a smart TV with Chromecast powered by a mini PC.
Stadia™ also offers a controller that can be paired with your Android device. This controller connects directly to Google’s custom gaming data centers to deliver precise and responsive control. Don’t want to pay extra for the controller? No worries! You can also play Stadia on a compatible mobile device without a controller by using the touch gamepad.
Nvidia GeForce Now™
GeForce Now™, the cloud gaming platform developed by NVIDIA, can instantly transform any laptop, Windows PC, Android TV, Mac, Android smartphone, tablet, iPhone, or iPad into the perfect gaming setup. In contrast to most cloud gaming platforms, GeForce Now™ does not sell games or offer access to its own library. Instead, it links to your digital store account (such as Steam, Epic Games Store, among others) so you can play games you already own or have purchased through them. In short, Nvidia GeForce Now™ does not have its own catalog of games but allows you to play the games you already purchased on your digital platform of choice. So, even if you don’t have a powerful PC, you will be able to play the latest games in high definition.
Although you can access this service for free, this platform also offers paid memberships, such as Priority and RTX 3080. One of the biggest differences between the free version and the paid version is that the first one has a queue, increasing wait time and time of play, while the paid version gives the player more freedom to play whenever, with greater graphic power.
Xbox Cloud Gaming (formerly Project xCloud)
Xbox Cloud Gaming is Microsoft’s cloud gaming service. This platform allows you to play video games without needing a console or a PC just a stable Internet connection.
To access this service, it is necessary to be subscribed to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, a library of over 200 games with a monthly payment system that offers gamers the possibility of playing without the need to purchase a console.
According to a post on Xbox Wire—the official source for the latest news and content about Xbox—, Microsoft has announced that by the end of 2022, they will allow users to run and stream from the cloud games they have purchased and also games they already own, as long as these games are cloud-enabled in the catalog.
Cloud gaming’s technological breakthroughs
As a result of the continuous growth of cloud computing, the need for applications that can take advantage of it has increased considerably, and the gaming industry is well aware of this. This industry has been evolving and has reached, in a very short time, a point where cloud gaming may end up becoming the new way to play. The potential of this new gaming modality is convincing even the most skeptical players thanks to its versatility and the growing number of games (from the classics to the most recent ones) that are available through the different cloud gaming services.
For several specialists in the field, cloud gaming is the future of the video game industry, including the big-name brands. However, there is still a long way to go before cloud gaming is truly accessible and fully developed to completely replace conventional console or PC-based gaming. But with an annual growth rate of 45.8%, the day cloud gaming takes over is not too far along.
How much does cloud gaming cost?
There are options for every budget, although it is worth mentioning that gaming from the cloud can actually save you some money. In general, playing in the cloud is a more cost-effective option in the long run, given that consoles need to be periodically replaced while cloud gaming does not require an expensive computer or device. Consoles also provide limited games, where its necessary to purchase a physical disc or cartridge, making it expensive to have a variety to play from.
Cloud gaming services offer several options, ranging from free, economic, or premium versions. As mentioned above, some platforms (such as Nvidia GeForce Now™) offer access to cloud gaming for free but with certain restrictions. It all depends on the cloud gaming service and the subscription plan you choose.
Technology has progressed to the point where it doesn’t take a lot of money to get a device with the power to run games in the cloud. Mini PCs offer a cost-effective alternative to expensive, space-consuming desktop computers, due to their small form factor design and ability to seamlessly connect to any monitor or high-definition TV. They are just as powerful as a full-size computer, yet compact enough to be practical, while offering reliable connectivity, functionality, and high computing power for a stable and enjoyable game streaming experience.
Which cloud gaming service is the best option?
The best option is the one you choose based on your preferences, gaming habits, and the money you decide to spend on entertainment. There are many cloud game services that offer plenty of games to choose from for less than $15 per month.
That being said, remember to make sure you have a strong internet connection to avoid any lag. For the best experience and when possible, a direct connection to the Ethernet port is recommended.
Get more information
In an effort to create technology that makes it easier for users to access the benefits of cloud gaming, Azulle, a leading brand, and manufacturer of compact computing solutions, has designed the Byte4 Home Entertainment, the ultimate bundle to game from anywhere at anytime.
Azulle’s Byte4 Home Entertainment bundle comes with your favorite games already pre-installed and ready to play on any HD monitor or TV, providing 4K multi-display configurability and high performance. In addition get the 5-in-1 Lynk remote to combine all the functions of a full Windows keyboard to your ultimate gaming setup.
Would you like to learn more about Azulle for cloud gaming? Click here to continue reading more about cloud gaming powered by Azulle hardware!