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Cloud Gaming Pros and Cons

cloud gaming
Cloud Gaming Pros and Cons

Cloud Gaming Pros and Cons

Cloud gaming or games-on-demand is going to become the new 2017 trend. You’ve probably never heard of it, or if you have, you thought it was either too good to be true or too complicated to get into it any further. It’s time to have a closer look at cloud gaming services.

Surprisingly enough, the idea has been in the air for about a decade. There have been projects that have offered Game as a Service, like Gaikal and OnLive. The concept was very simple yet brilliant. A gamer leases a virtual machine hosted on a bare-metal server for an hour or two of exciting gaming. This allowed people to skip buying a gaming computer and avoid buying any games. The membership fee was affordable enough where people would be able to rent games and the gaming system and it would be worth it.

The hosting and bandwidth seemed to be the only bottleneck. Bare-metal hosting turned out to be expensive, and the number of the servers leased was growing exponentially as more and more gamers flooded in. Ironically enough these projects went bankrupt because they were too popular. The servers’ expenses ate up all the profits and most gamers walked away because they were irritated by the latencies that kept happening.

Right now, there are only two major players that remained in the market: Sony and Nvidia. Both companies have been in the gaming business for ages and have enough resources to pull the cloud gaming.

Sony Playstation Now firstly targets Play Station fandom, players who can’t afford buying a new game right now. Only recently did Sony migrate their platform to Windows PC. Unfortunately, Macs haven’t made it onto the list of the supported machines yet.

Sony Playstation Now Features

Type of Service: cloud gaming.

  • Games Support: PS4 games only.
  • Subscription: single paid (7-day trial available).
  • Equipment Required: Sony PlayStation 4, Windows PC, DUALSHOCK 4 controller.
  • Third-Party Controllers Support: No.
  • Keyboard and Mouse Support: No.
  • Multi-Player Gaming Support: Yes.
  • Save Files Storage: Yes.
  • Other Digital Entertainment: No.
  • Other Digital Services: No.

The greatest advantage of Sony PlayStation Now is the friendly ecosystem. The player has access to their account and the file saves from any supported device. The game progress is synchronized and one can start the game from the last save smoothly. PlayStation perks, such as Trophies are available in cloud gaming as well. In other words, a player will notice no difference whether he or she plays from a disk or from the cloud. Of course, a broad and stable internet connection is a necessary.

PlayStation 4 owners won’t save much money with this service, but the PC owners will. The Sony brand controller costs less than the console. Besides, if you feel PS games aren’t your thing, you can always cancel the subscription at any time.

nvidia geforce

Source of the image: https://services.tegrazone.com/sites/default/files/article-feature-images/geforce-now_0.jpg

Another big-timer is the GeForce Now cloud gaming service. (They aren’t too original about their names, eh?) Nvidia is the graphic card manufacturer and the hi-end gaming GeForce cards are its pack and parcel. Now Nvidia grants an access to cloud graphics computing for both the workstation and cloud gaming. Unlike Sony, Nvidia won’t support PCs, only the proprietary Nvidia Shield console. The price for the Shield hovers around $200, which is also the price of a decent PC upgrade. A used Nvidia Shield tablet can also cost anywhere from $150 or more. But what makes the Geforce Now service special is the Android TV aboard the console.

Nvidia Geforce Now Features

  • Type of Service: cloud gaming.
  • Games Support: games for Windows PC.
  • Subscription: single paid (3-month trial available).
  • Equipment Required: Nvidia Shield console, Nvidia Shield tablet.
  • Third-Party Controllers Support: No.
  • Keyboard and Mouse Support: No.
  • Multi-Player Gaming Support: Yes.
  • Save Files Storage: Yes.
  • Other Digital Entertainment: Android TV.
  • Other Digital Services: Smart Home (works with Nest smart home devices, requires Nvidia Spot).

In addition to the gaming library a purchaser gets a bunch of online movie services like HBO Now, Showtime, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Kodi, Plex, Disney Movies Anywhere, Hulu, Sling TV, Crackle, and EPIX from the box. This service will satisfy those customers who like killing two birds with one stone.

But Nvidia is unstoppable. They also added Al home and it is an amazing feature. The Nvidia Shields can become the core of your smart, or as the company calls it, AI home. Customers can get a voice controlled home environment, including climate, entertainment and security systems. Remember, all these tasks are assigned to one small console.

gamefly nvidia

Source of the image: http://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/BB_1024x500_GameFly.png

The game streaming service Gamefly also tries to put its fingers in every pie. It suggests game and video streaming and goes from consoles to smart TVs as well.

GameFly Now Features

  • Type of Service: cloud gaming.
  • Games Support: PS3, PS4, PSVita, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii, Switch.
  • Subscription: single paid.
  • Equipment Required: EMTEC GEM Box and/or GEM controller.
  • Third-Party Controllers Support: Amazon TV console and stick, Samsung Smart TV, LG Smart TV, Phillips Smart TV.
  • Keyboard and Mouse Support: N/A.
  • Multi-Player Gaming Support: Yes.
  • Save Files Storage: Yes.
  • Other Digital Entertainment: movies rental.
  • Other Digital Services: No.

Gamefly is promising a lot but what about the performance?

The service is surely on its last legs, since they actually ship game disks! It’s like a rental next door only they aren’t next door and you have to order at least two games at a time. Also, it can take several weeks for some relatively unpopular games weeks to arrive. In the second decade of the 21st century digital delivery is a must-have for cloud gaming.

Liquidsky

Source of the image: https://blog.liquidsky.tv/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/new-LS.png

But what you really should turn your eyes to is LiquidSky. It’s a partner of IBM, Microsoft, Nvidia and Samsung and promises to stream games across any electronic device running on Windows and Android. The Macs support is promised to come soon.

LiquidSky Features

  • Type of Service: cloud gaming.
  • Games Support: games for Windows PC, gaming consoles, Android devices.
  • Subscription: free accounts, payable upgrade.
  • Equipment Required: None.
  • Third-Party Controllers Support: Yes.
  • Keyboard and Mouse Support: Yes.
  • Multi-Player Gaming Support: Yes.
  • Save Files Storage: Yes.
  • Other Digital Entertainment: No.

LiquidSky is a pure GaaS. It embraces all games from Android handhelds to desktops. The most amazing feature of the service is the BYOG (Bring Your Own Game) principle. LiquidSky just leases the virtual machine in the cloud to you. You can download any game you buy from Steam, Google Play or Origin. Your Sky Computer shuts down every time you leave the game and nobody will be able to access it.

The founders of this company own data-centers all over the world, but remembering the fate of OnLive, they resolved to use cloud hosting. Therefore, the load is spread across the world picking up the less loaded bare-metal servers. In fact, LiquidSky is a cloud gaming project that lives in clouds. Perhaps, it does explain the company’s name after all.

The subscription plans vary by storage, place capacity and support. Free subscribers only get e-mail support, while the owners of paid accounts can rely on 24/7 online support. So not only do you pay for your account, but you pay for a whole package of services. There are two payable options- you can either pay as you go or do monthly payments. Monthly payments of course mean the latter being a little bit lower.

There’s also an in-game currency called Skycredits. It works the way any game currency in Android games does. You can either buy game credits or earn them by watching ads.

Of all the options, my personal preference would be Liquidsky. They aren’t tied down to any console, set top box or computer but simultaneously leave the door open for any option. They also don’t pack online video streams and such- it is just pure gaming.

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