Cloud gaming has been putting players in the middle of a big dilemma for at least a few years. Google Stadia, Parsec, Boosteroid, GeForce NOW — these platforms are similar and different at the same time. So which one should you choose, especially if you are an eSport fan? Well, to answer this question let’s highlight the most reasonable platforms out there and compare them to one another.
Where to start?
Stop for a moment. Ask yourself: what would you like to get from a cloud platform? Is it a fair price? Extensive game library? Or maybe gameplay stability? It would be great to have all these components in one service but unfortunately, this isn’t a reality we leave in.
Cloud gaming has become one of the most demanded technologies on the market. It’s obvious and interesting at the same time. Many players choose it because there’s no need to own a high-end PC if you go cloud. This leads us to another important benefit. You don’t have to waste money on expensive GPU, CPU, memory, etc. Every cloud platform has a specific price but almost all of them charge around $10 per month.
And this is only a beginning… You can forget about driver installation, low-end graphics or long loadings. This is possible only if you have a stable Internet connection. To run games in the cloud properly you have to secure from 15 to 35 Mbit/s. Can you handle it? Then let’s talk about the main cloud gaming platforms on the market you should definitely try.
Nvidia… We could stop right there. The brand speaks for itself. And there is no doubt GeForce NOW will become even more famous soon. Yes, many players know about the stable work of Nvidia servers. So should you buy the subscription and forget about all other cloud platforms? It’s hard to tell.
First of all, you are likely not to find your favorite game in their library. Nvidia lost a lot of users after Activision, Bethesda and other publishers turned their backs on GeForce NOW. As a result, a lot of games were removed from the service. Yes, now Nvidia is making all they can to fix “misunderstandings”. This is why Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed series have been added to GeForce NOW again.
How much will it cost? You can try cloud gaming for free. About 85% of all platforms do not provide such options. Why is that so? GeForce NOW free subscription offers one hour of playtime. Then users get disconnected, and that is definitely not comfortable when you run online games. But that’s not the main issue. Their $5 Founders subscription has a 6-hour limitation too. This is where at least one important question appears: is that a reasonable price for such services?
GeForce NOW has servers in most areas all around the globe. Nvidia just has no competitors, obviously. This giant owns big hardware farms all over the world. You can be sure about low latency if you like competitive games like League of Legends, Dota 2, CS:GO, etc.
GeForce NOW has an app both for PC and mobile devices. The experience is pretty similar if you use a controller as your main device.
Microsoft had a really hard time after the Xbox One announcement: Kinect 2.0, no backward compatibility, TV over gaming. But that was a long time ago. Now they are trying to create a new ecosystem for players.
Project xCloud will be a part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and that might be a game-changing step for Microsoft. You don’t need to buy additional service when it’s already included with a $15 subscription.
What about servers? xCloud will be available in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. That’s a nice list for the beginning.
Okay, stable servers: checked! But you can play only a part of Xbox Game Pass games in the cloud. Hopefully, Microsoft will change this in the near future. For now, there are AAA titles like Forza Horizon 4, Sea of Thieves, Gears 5, etc. Basically, all the latest Microsoft games. This might be not much but definitely a good start before a complete launch on September 15.
There is no desktop version of Project xCloud for now. To play on your mobile phone you’ll be required to connect one of the supported gamepads (Xbox One or 360, DualShock, etc.)
It’s very interesting how cloud platforms are emerging nowadays. Boosteroid has become one of the most popular services in Eastern and Central Europe within six months. This is probably connected to a lack of servers from other companies there. However, Boosteroid is now holding a strong position in the European market.
What are Boosteroid advantages? The major one is web-based access. We’ve seen something like that before, however, only a few platforms are developing such functionality. Boosteroid is counting on this technology as it is the easiest way to run games. This cloud gaming platform supports Chrome/Opera and is also available on iPhone via Safari.
How much does Boosteroid cost? The price is one of the strongest sides of Boosteroid. The usual monthly subscription is granting 24/7 gameplay for a little less than €10. Compared to the time-restricted platforms this is a pretty solid offer. Boosteroid also provides an annual subscription for €49.89 which is €4.16 per month.
What about games? Bosteroid library has both the latest and best-selling titles. You can check it on your own before buying a subscription. It’s always a pleasure to see titles like Resident Evil 2, Horizon Zero Dawn or Fall Guys on a cloud platform.
Google was one of the first companies to announce its cloud platform a few years ago. Unfortunately, hypetraine was destroyed after the official launch. Why did that happen? Most of the reviewers were unhappy with the huge latency. Yes, now Google Stadia is a decent service but back then a lot of players had a reason to skip this cloud platform.
The biggest advantage of Google Stadia is the possibility to play games with no additional payment. What does it mean? You don’t have to own any title on Steam or Epic Games Store to run them in the cloud. This is a very solid offer for a price of $10. Not all of the new releases appear on Google Stadia, but there are at least 30 AAA titles.
Google Stadia is available in Western Europe and the U.S. which might be a bit disappointing. Basically, you can’t try this cloud platform if you don’t live in Germany or Italy. Using VPN in this situation can only make things worse. If you can’t find your country on Google Stadia list then the only option is to wait.
Shadow just offers a remote PC, so you can do whatever you want with one big limitation. You need to install games on a remote computer. The problem here is that users have only 250 Gb of free space. It means you can’t even install the latest Call of Duty: Modern Warfare or Microsoft Flight Simulator.
Shadow is available in the U.S. and also has a few servers in Europe. Sounds good for you? Then let’s talk about price. Here is the lowest offer for $12 per month:
- GPU: GTX 1080 or equivalent;
- CPU: 4 Cores - up to 3.4 Ghz;
- RAM: 12 GB;
- Storage: 256 GB SSD.
There are two more subscriptions for $25 and $40. Yes, this price might not be reasonable. The point is you can get a real gaming PC in a few years rather than buying a subscription for all this time.
What can you get out of this? Shadow provides different types of streaming. You can choose between 4K/60fps and 1080p/144fps. Shadow app is available for Windows, MacOS, Android and Ubuntu. Basically, you can get remote access to the powerful PC from any device. But if you want to play on a smartphone, get your gamepad ready.
Vortex seems to have a bit of each platform. It works all around the world, however, you can face latency problems. This cloud gaming platform provides web-based access as Boosteroid does. Unfortunately, this type of technology isn’t their toughest side.
However, the most interesting thing about this cloud platform is pricing. There are some major restrictions you can face even after paying $10 for a basic subscription. There will be no Full HD resolution, a restricted number of games and, most importantly, only 50 hours of playtime. The descent options are available only with a Pro subscription. A true gamer knows 50 hours of gameplay per month is nothing, especially for competitive players.
One of the strongest Vortex advantages is their mobile app with full-screen control. While other platforms are trying to attract players with controller support, Vortex was one of the first to push this technology on the market.
The library is not that impressive but you can find the most popular games like Fortnite or GTA V. For many players this will be enough to spend hundreds of hours online.
No doubt, every platform has its own advantages and there are major differences between them. Services like GeForce NOW and Vortex are already available globally but have playtime and games restrictions. Shadow just gives you a remote PC with a 250 Gb of space. Project xCloud is focused on the mobile platforms but has a lot of potential in combination with Xbox Game Pass. Boosteroid provides web-based access technology and reasonable pricing, which is good for market competition. Google Stadia has almost got out of the post-launch disaster.
We’ll see a lot of changes in the nearest future. Some of these cloud platforms will become absolute leaders. For now, this technology is definitely worth trying and has already been relevant for a few years at least. Big giants still haven’t found their place on the horizon so there is definitely a room for some new players. Stay tuned to know more about cloud gaming.