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The Cloud Gaming Wars: Each Platform Compared

Since the release of Google Stadia, almost a full year ago (November 19th, 2019), we have seen the rise of popularity in cloud gaming. With many big tech companies trying to get a slice of the pie we are here to help you decide which service could be your Netflix of Video Games.

What is cloud gaming?

Cloud gaming allows you to play games straight from a server without the need to download them or own a high end PC. These servers run on top of the line computers that do the hard work for your device. All you need is a compatible device and a good internet connection to play the supported games.

Cloud gaming is only as good as your internet connection. 

The biggest hurdle for consumers is having a consistently fast internet speed wherever they intend to play. It is clear with the tremendous success of the Nintendo Switch that portable gaming anywhere is very desirable and marketable. 

Unfortunately enjoying high quality games on your phone via Cloud Gaming is held back by your internet connection and data limits. The idea of playing games anywhere with this technology is enticing until you try to play on your hotel or coffee shop wifi.

Cloud Gaming vs Playing Locally

Even if you have a gigabit internet connection you will always have the least amount of input lag playing a game locally. Input lag is particularly important when playing competitive fighting games. This is why Super Smash Bros. Melee players still prefer old school CRT TVs. 

You can also achieve far greater frames per second playing locally on a high end PC with much more customization. If you enjoy competitive multiplayer shooters then every frame matters. 

That said cloud gaming opens up the door for a superior gaming experience to those that have only known 1080p 30fps gameplay like on an Xbox One. It is also far more affordable than buying your own dream gaming PC. If you mostly play single player games then cloud gaming could be very appealing.

Which cloud gaming service is right for you?

Our contenders:

  • Amazon Luna
  • Google Stadia
  • Nvidia GeForce NOW
  • Shadow by Blade
  • Microsoft xCloud
  • Playstation Now

We put together an easily digestible comparison chart of each major cloud gaming service. 

Service Price Systems Games Extra Features Internet Speed
Service Luna
Price $5.99/mo early access price
Systems PC, Mac, Fire TV, Iphone, Ipad, (Android Devices coming soon).
Games 50
Extra Features Luna Controller, Alexa Assistant, Twitch Integration
Internet Speed 10 Mbps
Service Stadia
Price Free Tier, $9.99/mo for Pro
Systems Chrome Browser on any computer, Chromecast for TV, Android Devices
Games 31 free with Pro subscription & 147 games total
Extra Features Stadia Controller, Youtube Integration coming soon.
Internet Speed 10 Mbps, 35 Mbps for 4K
Service GeForce NOW
Price Free tier, $4.99/mo
Systems Mac, Windows PC, Android, iOS Browser
Games Over 2,000 games supported. Buy games from your preferred marketplaces
Extra Features Stream games you already own from marketplaces like Steam or Epic Games.
Internet Speed 15 Mbps for 720p 60fps, 25 Mbps for 1080p 60fps
Service Shadow
Price $14.99/mo or $11.99/12 mo, $29.99/mo or $24.99/12mo, $49.99 or $39.99/12mo
Systems PC, Mac, Android, iOS
Games Practically any game or software you own is supported.
Extra Features Full access to Windows 10 on a virtual machine.
Internet Speed 15 Mbps
Service xCloud
Price $15/mo with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate
Systems Xbox One, Series X, Android, Windows PC
Games 100+ games
Extra Features Microsoft Exclusive games
Internet Speed 10 Mbps
Service PS Now
Price $9.99/mo or $59.99/yr
Systems PS4, PS5 or Windows PC
Games Over 800 PS2, PS3 and PS4 titles
Extra Features Popular Playstation Exclusive Games
Internet Speed 5 Mbps

Our Top Pick: Shadow by Blade

Shadow by Blade has taken cloud gaming to the next level, granting you full access to Windows 10 with cloud computing. Rather than playing games on servers through a browser or app, like its competitors, you have a dedicated PC at your disposal. Your peripherals automatically connect to this virtual machine and then you are off to enjoy a high end PC. 

Download your favorite game launchers like Steam or Epic Games and begin downloading your games like normal. The lowest tier, $11.99 for 12 months, grants you a 256GB hard drive to play with and runs games at 1080p or 1440p 60fps. Upgrade to the highest tier and you have access to 4k gameplay with ray tracing using an RTX Titan graphics card and a 1TB hard drive.

While the prices are much higher than its competitors it offers so much more. You have access to essentially any game or software that you own. Make music with Ableton Live or create something in Adobe Photoshop for example. These prices are still better than buying a $2000 PC to do the same things locally.

Runner Up: Xbox xCloud

If you don’t need an entire PC like Shadow and are only looking for a seamless cloud gaming experience then Microsoft’s xCloud is hard to beat. With the xCloud comes the Xbox Game Pass which includes a constantly evolving massive library of games. Enjoy all of Microsoft’s first party games like Halo and Gears of War. Furthermore, with Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Bethesda you have their catalog to look forward to, including all future titles like Elder Scrolls VI. If big budget AAA games aren’t your thing, there are plenty of hidden gems to keep you entertained as well.

Conclusion: Is this the future of gaming?

Cloud Gaming allows you to play AAA games like Doom Eternal on your smartphone or even a Samsung Smartfridge, spotted by The Verge on twitter. This will remove the barrier of entry to gaming for many people that can’t afford a high end PC or a next generation console.

Will cloud gaming eventually dominate the industry and eliminate the need for hardware? Probably not but it could become a great alternative for single player games at the very least.

Gaming has become the biggest scene in the entertainment industry and will only keep rising with next generation consoles on the horizon and the evolution of cloud gaming.

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