How to Choose a Cloud Gaming Service

PCs and consoles remain the platforms of choice for gamers. Yet more and more fans of the universe in pixels and polygons are looking at Cloud Gaming as a revolutionary alternative more and more concrete. On the other hand, that of streaming applied to video games is a technology no longer in the experimental phase, and that now has several players to contend for the favor of the public, which thanks to these services may perhaps approach the world of gaming with a "softer" approach.

Cloud gaming platforms, by definition, are in fact going to cut costs, eliminating the fact rather expensive new generation consoles and computers among the essential purchases to enjoy this or that title of appeal. An advantage certainly not insignificant, which must still deal with certain conditions necessary to enjoy the most of our favorite video games. In this guide we'll discover what cloud gaming is, and above all which are the main services that offer the possibility to play video games on all the devices in our home, and which of them offer the most delicious package for each different gamer profile.

Cloud Gaming: what it is and how it works

Cloud Gaming, sometimes called gaming on demand or gaming-as-a-service, is a service that, to make a simple comparison, can be compared to what we see every day on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Disney+. Only designed for video games. It goes without saying that the various streaming gaming platforms rely entirely on online, so as to run video games on remote servers and stream them directly to a user's device, or more colloquially, to play remotely from a cloud.

Operating in a similar fashion to remote desktops and video on demand services, titles in the catalog are stored and run remotely on a provider's dedicated hardware, then streamed as a video to a player's device via a client. The client handles the player's inputs, which are then sent to the same server and executed in the game as actual in-game actions.

You'll also understand the pros of these services. First of all, as already mentioned, they make gaming much more accessible: not only we won't have the need to download and install locally the game of our interest, but we'll also have available many compatible devices. Consequently, all that these platforms "in the clouds" require in order to drag us into the magical world of video games is a good internet connection, with waiting times reduced to a minimum.

Everything happens immediately, by opening the appropriate application on our smartphone, tablet, TV or PC and starting the desired video game. Secondly, several services can offer some additional features, such as the possibility that a spectator joins the session of a player and temporarily take control of the game, of course if authorized by the player himself.

Cloud Gaming Platforms: which service to choose

Although Cloud Gaming is a relatively young reality, there are already several technology giants who have believed, and then invested, in this interesting possibility. The competition in the sector is therefore quite fierce, and counts as much popular companies in the field of video games as giants such as Google and Amazon. Obviously, not all services are equal: each one is characterized by its own business model and a certain list of playable titles, for a final offer that could vary a lot from one brand to another.

It goes without saying that it is not possible to identify the absolute best one, but the one that best suits our geeky needs. So let's see in detail how the main ones on the market work, and how they are trying to seduce the hearts, and wallets, of gamers out there.

Google Stadia

Big G, with Google Stadia, was the first company to have materialized in a complete project and well outlined the choice of wanting to bet (also) on gaming on demand. We are faced with a platform that in its basic form can be used completely free of charge, albeit with some limitations. The business model of Google's service is in fact based on the purchase of individual digital video games and an optional subscription to Stadia Pro. This subscription offers better performance in the game phases, such as 4K video resolution, and a good selection of games that can be downloaded for free on a monthly basis, a bit like what already happens on PlayStation and Xbox with the Instant Game Collection and Games With Gold.

It is also important to note that it is now compatible with most devices, including those running on the iOS operating system. The most evident sore point, however, are the list prices, too often quite high for dated titles or those with a few years on their shoulders. In any case, the most convenient way to enter the ecosystem of Google Stadia is to opt for the purchase of the Premiere Edition, which in a single package includes the official controller, the Chromecast Ultra and three months subscription to Stadia Pro.

Microsoft xCloud

Cloud Gaming according to Microsoft rhymes with xCloud, a service included in the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, which with 12.99 euros per month gives you free access to an extensive library of more than 300 video games, including all Xbox exclusives. These titles can be used both locally in the traditional way on PCs and consoles of the Redmond company, and precisely via the cloud. Currently the service is only available on Android devices, but Microsoft's intention is to make it completely universal as it happens for the competition, making it available to PC users, iOS and Smart TV.

The main advantage is represented by the catalog of video games for the use and consumption of fans, which embraces the entire library of Game Pass. Space then to a small expenditure every 30 days to enjoy productions such as football FIFA 20, the shooters Battlefield V and DOOM Eternal, and the dreamy Control. In addition, every Xbox exclusive coming in the next few years will be automatically added on the day of release within this ever-evolving library. As if that wasn't enough, Electronic Arts video game fans will be happy to know that the Game Pass Ultimate subscription also includes the EA Play service with a catalog of more than 60 games.

Sony PlayStation Now

Sony's signature PlayStation Now may seem like a similar service to Microsoft's, but its business model has some major differences. For the moment, it is not possible to use it on mobile devices, perhaps the option will be included in the future, while it is fully compatible with the most modern PlayStation consoles, so PS4, PS4 Pro and PS5, PC and Mac. The price is set at 9.99 euros per month, and even in this case the library of titles is quite varied and changing over time.

Naturally, in parallel with what happens on the shores of the "big M", on Now to shine more are the Sony exclusives, such as Days Gone, God of War or Horizon Zero Dawn. On the contrary, however, Sony will not add the upcoming releases immediately on the day of their debut on the market. In this way, even if you don't own the Japanese giant's home consoles, a little bit of everyone can enjoy the iconic video games of the PlayStation universe, as long as you own an Apple PC or Mac computer. On PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, however, you'll have immediate access to a solid collection of games at a reasonable price.

Nvidia GeForce Now

Including the Cloud Gaming services is also one of the "veterans" of Nvidia, GeForce Now. The company provides its powerful and performing servers to play a whole series of polygonal productions that can be purchased on PC. Just connect the client to Steam or other digital stores compatible with the platform to have access to the library already in our possession, being able to enjoy all those advantages offered by the gaming market on personal computers without physically owning one. And preferring gaming sessions on Windows, Mac, Android and iOS devices, without forgetting Nvidia Shield.

All with the maximum of the graphic beauties of GeForce Now, including 4k and Ray Tracing. The Nvidia service is available for free, but with the limitation of only one hour of uninterrupted gaming; alternatively, you can think about buying the founders package for about 30 euros and lasting six months in total. This is a model designed especially for those who already own titles purchased from Steam, GOG or Epic Games Store, and would like to try them freely even on the move by taking advantage of the beauty of streaming. It's a model designed especially for those who already have titles purchased from Steam, GOG or the Epogames Store, and would like to try them out on the move, taking advantage of the beauty of streaming. In addition, while competitors allow you to play with default settings, here we can change several parameters such as framerate, resolution and texture quality.

Amazon Luna

The latest Cloud Gaming platform to have made its debut is Amazon Luna, still in beta and not accessible for the moment here in Italy. The eShopping giant has opted for a channel model, with which you can purchase packages of video games at a fixed price per month. As on Xbox and PlayStation, there will then be selections made by Amazon itself, as additional channels from other major publishers. Among these, to give an example, that of Ubisoft, made of small and big cults like Assassin's Creed, Watch Dogs and Immortal Fenix Rising. Amazon Luna, according to the intentions of Jeff Bezos and his people, will be available almost everywhere, with compatibility assured on PC, Mac, Android, iOS and TV, through the Amazon stick.