Ah... so you finally decided to make the leap into Cloud Gaming, or you are taking another look at what platforms you have available to you?
But, there are so many to choose from! Which should you choose?
Hopefully, I can help you decide. But, before I begin, I want to state that these are opinions based on my research of each platform. It may not be the best platform for you. The best way to choose one is to try them all out and see which one you like the best. However, this article will help you find out where to begin :).
Different Types of Cloud Gaming
So, we have the PC Gamers and the Console gamers. But now, there is a relatively new category called Cloud Gaming.
Cloud Gaming as a whole is multiple categories within itself.
You have Cloud Gaming platforms similar to consoles, where you must purchase a game specifically for that platform.
You have Cloud Gaming platforms that give you access to a fully functional Windows 10 computer.
You have Cloud Gaming platforms that you subscribe to and gain access to an extensive library of games.
And lastly, you have Cloud Gaming platforms that give you access to a library of games that you own on your favorite digital distribution platforms.
Console-like Cloud Gaming Platforms
If you have done any research, you may already know which Cloud Gaming platform falls under this category. Currently, Google Stadia is the leading Cloud Gaming service in this category.
With Stadia, you gain access to what is essentially a console in the cloud.
With Stadia, you will need to purchase games specifically for the platform. From there, you have the option to play the games on a free account or a Stadia Pro subscription if you want to play at a higher resolution.
This category is perfect for those that do not have many games but want to get into Cloud Gaming and still enjoy the "Console Experience."
Full Computer Cloud Gaming Platforms
This category covers platforms like Shadow PC and Parsec via Paperspace. These services give you access to a Windows 10 virtual machine in the cloud that you can do pretty much whatever you want on.
Install Steam and play your favorite games. You can also browse the web, work on computing heavy processes, pretty much anything else.
It gives you access to a powerful Windows 10 rig for a single monthly cost.
This category is perfect for those that want to do more than just gaming but want to avoid the high upfront cost of purchasing a new computer. With these services, you will be able to turn your old computer into a powerful, more modern rig. You will also be able to play PC games that you already own on these platforms.
Subscription-style Cloud Gaming Platforms
With these services, you can subscribe to a library of games. This single monthly subscription would then give you access to play any of the games in the library, as long as you stay subscribed.
This model is similar to subscription services like Netflix or Hulu, where you pay a single monthly cost to access all of their content.
This category is perfect for those who want to play an extensive library of games without sacrificing $20-$70 per game. For a single monthly fee, you will be able to play game libraries that house 50+ to hundreds of games.
Play games you own Cloud Gaming Platforms
Lastly, this category consists of services like NVIDIA GeForce Now.
These types of Cloud Gaming services allow you to rent their hardware to play games you already own from digital storefront services like Steam, Epic Games Store, and GOG.
With NVIDIA GeForce Now, you have the option to try it out for free, with some limitations, or pay a monthly subscription fee to play the games you own.
This category is perfect for those that already have an extensive library of PC games, and they do not want to re-purchase them or shell out the additional monthly cost for a full computer-style cloud gaming service.
So, which one is for you?
In the descriptions above, I mention the different types of cloud gaming categories. Read through them and figure out which one sounds like it would fit you the best.
I will give you some time to look...
Okay, decided on one?
Now, I will list each Cloud Gaming platform that I know of, in each category, along with pricing and what you can expect.
Google Stadia is a Cloud Gaming service owned and operated by Google. This cloud gaming service is closer to a console and allows you to purchase and "own" your games on the platform.
The service is technically available for free, but you are limited to 1080p streaming and limited audio quality.
At $9.99 a month, you can sign up for Stadia Pro, which gives you the ability to stream at a 4k resolution and have surround sound audio.
However, it is good to note that this is an additional cost to the games you purchase. But, Stadia Pro does include free games every month that you can claim and keep for as long as you are a Stadia Pro subscriber.
Full Computer Category
Shadow PC is operated by Blade and owned by HubiC. Shadow is a Cloud Gaming service that gives you access to a Virtual Machine running Windows 10 and has a GPU connected to it.
At the time of this writing, Shadow offers three tiers.
- Shadow Boost - $15 a month
- Shadow Ultra - $30 a month
- Shadow Infinite - $50 a month
The pricing shown above is the monthly rate. The monthly cost is lower if you enter a year-long agreement.
Each tier has its own hardware. The Shadow Boost is the lowest tier with an average powered Quad-Core CPU and an NVIDIA Quadro P5000. Shadow Ultra includes a faster Quad-Core processor with a Quadro RTX 5000. Lastly, there is the Shadow Infinite with a Six-Core processor paired with a Quadro RTX 6000.
Due to NVIDIA's usage agreements for GTX cards in data centers, Shadow and every other company offering a similar service must use Quadro or similar datacenter-allowed cards.
Although they may not be focused on gaming, these cards pack a punch and can easily play most games. But, like building a PC, depending on what games you want to play and what graphical settings you would like to run it at, you will have to find out which tier will work best for you.
Paperspace is not technically a Cloud Gaming service but a cloud computing service altogether. Much like Shadow, you gain access to a Windows 10 PC in the cloud, but pricing is significantly different.
They offer a range of NVIDIA Quadro cards, and you can pay at an hourly or monthly rate.
Pricing can be found here - https://www.paperspace.com/pricing
However, be warned, pricing is significantly higher than that of Shadow.
If you use Paperspace, you need to make sure you create a Virtual machine using the Parsec template. You will then need to download the Parsec client to connect to your rig and game on.
Amazon Luna, which is currently in Early Access, is one of the subscription-style cloud gaming services.
Amazon Luna currently offers two separate subscriptions, or channels, that you can subscribe to.
- Luna+ for $5.99 a month
- Ubisoft+ for $14.99 a month
The Luna+ subscription is a select number of games that Amazon could secure licensing to add to their service. This subscription includes games such as Control and GRID.
The Ubisoft+ subscription will allow you to play any Ubisoft game currently available through the Luna cloud gaming service.
Xbox Cloud Gaming
Xbox Cloud Gaming, by itself, is not a service you can subscribe to. Instead, it is a perk of being an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscriber.
For $14.99 a month, you can subscribe to this membership and get a plethora of perks, including another subscription service, EA Play. With Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, you can play a library of games on your regular PC, your Xbox console, and through the cloud.
Blacknut Cloud Gaming
Lastly is Blacknut. Blacknut is a French-based cloud gaming service that gives you access to a library of over 500 games for a single monthly subscription cost of $15.99.
Much like the other services in this category, Blacknut's cloud gaming library is fully available to all that subscribe to their service. Pay monthly, gain access to all the games.
Play Games You Own Category
NVIDIA GeForce Now
In this category, we have NVIDIA's cloud gaming service, GeForce Now.
With GeForce Now, you will be able to play games that you already own on services such as Steam, Epic Games Store, GOG, and more. All you need to do is connect your store accounts to your GeForce Now account, and you can start playing them!
The service, which has a free tier, and a paid membership, will run you $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year.
The free tier will give you access to the cloud gaming service, but you will be limited to gaming sessions of a maximum of 1 hour per session, you will have to wait in a queue line to access hardware, and you will not have access to RTX and DLSS technology.
If you decide to shell out the $9.99 a month, you will gain access to the service, have priority in the queue, have access to RTX and DLSS, and no limit on the gaming sessions.
The main advantage of using a service such as GeForce Now is that it is run by a company that creates some of the best graphics cards currently available.
So, did you decide on what Cloud Gaming service you want to try out first?
Whichever you choose, make sure you thoroughly test it out, and if it does not work out for you, feel free to try another one! The platforms I listed above are only some of the many cloud gaming platforms that are available. If you know of some that I did not list, feel free to check those out as well. They may be even better :).