The way video games are consumed is changing rapidly! Of course, home consoles (Xbox Series X and PS5) and gaming PCs still have a bright future ahead of them. But Cloud Gaming is now gaining momentum. It is asserting itself as the future of gaming or, at least, as a complementary way to enjoy your favorite games.
Relatively recent, this new aspect of gaming evolves quickly and often. The Microsoft xCloud arrived in mid-September while Nvidia GeForce Now (GFN) was open to everyone at the start of the year. We therefore suggest that you compare the four main offers, three of “cloud gaming” and one of “PC cloud gaming”.
You will find most of the information concerning them in the table below and our comments.
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- We notice that the prices vary enormously from one offer to another. The most important difference is between the couple Stadia / GeForce NOW, on one side, and Shadow / Microsoft, on the other. Why ? Shadow, the service of the French actor has the particularity of being the only one to give access to a PC under Windows 10.
A virtual machine, on which you can install games or a word processor. The possibilities are much more numerous than those offered by the game launch interface of its two competitors.
For its part, Microsoft includes xCloud at the heart of its most expensive on-demand games offer, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate which gives access to lots of console and PC titles, in addition to access to Xbox Live Gold.
The only ones offering free (hyper limited) at the moment are, since April, Stadia and the GeForce NOW. But it is Nvidia’s offer that offers the best value for money for those who just want to play, quickly and without having to find the constraints of a PC.
Comes next Shadow which is the service that offers three offers, each more powerful than the other but which have difficult to be offered to the general public in quantity.
- Games by tens, hundreds or even thousands. Shadow, precisely, it is the most complete platform of the lot in terms of the potential catalog. You can install everything there (games, apps, etc.) within the limit of the storage allowed.
Nvidia GFN is currently not compatible with all games, but it supports ten times more than Stadia, while costing less. Finally, xCloud offers a catalog of more than 100 games, mostly from the Xbox and PC catalog but also from certain third-party publishers.
- Let’s tackle now limitations. Only Stadia, Shadow and xCloud allow you to play as much as you want, without disconnecting. Nvidia has chosen to limit playing time, based on statistics and data collected during its beta phase. You will thus be entitled to one hour continuously for the free offer, and six for the paid plan. Only the free offer requires you to wait for places to become available on the servers to resume your game every 60 minutes.
- Play yes, but on what ? For Stadia, the constraints have eased a little but remain important, it is obvious. The Google ecosystem is involved and you even need dedicated hardware to play on the TV.
GeForce NOW and Shadow are more permissive. PC, Mac, Android smartphones (for GFN and Shadow) and / or iOS (Shadow only), connected televisions (Shadow) or TV / screens connected to a Shield TV (GFN), you have the choice and you can multiply the pleasures and possibilities. Finally, the xCloud is only accessible on Android mobile or tablet for the moment. Stadia, xCloud, GFN and Shadow accept 3G / 4G connections.
These four offers are the most mature and richest. Microsoft has been slow to tweak xCloud, still limited in platform compatibility and dependent on a larger subscription plan.
xCloud could, however, set itself apart quickly if Microsoft believes that this would allow it to reach players who do not have a PC or a console, and therefore have no interest in subscribing to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.
Amazon and Steam approaching, Sony already there but a little apart
PlayStation Now, from Sony, which we did not include in our comparison for various reasons, remains very dependent on the PlayStation although it is also accessible on PC.
However, it should experience changes in the coming months, which is in any case what the CEO of Sony Interactive, Jim Ryan, assured a few months ago. If the PS Now grows, the war between Sony and Microsoft will be on earth (with consoles) as in heaven (the cloud).
Amazon, the other giant that has so far been absent from Cloud Gaming, is fast approaching. According to rumors, several projects had been in the works for a while and, finally, the merchant site unveiled on September 24 his Luna offer. It will not arrive in commercial version until 2021.
For now, it is only accessible in Early Access, upon registration and available only in the United States. The formula chosen by Amazon is similar to that of a subscription to one or more channel packages in the world of TV. Except that these are not thematic channels but catalogs of games that you will have available. A controller, doped with Alexa, will also be marketed and the technical platforms chosen by Amazon should allow developers to quickly port their creations to servers.
The latest giant that risks relying on an existing offer to emerge: Steam. And it will use GeForce NOW to offer cloud to its players. If he too lands in the heavens, it could hurt a lot.
Finally, other lesser-known players, such as LiquidSky, Parsec (present in the United States only for the moment) or even Vortex (available in Europe) should also be talked about. The small revolution of Cloud Gaming continues its path and is likely to gain more and more importance after the events of this year 2020.
Added Microsoft’s xCloud to the table and changed several information relating to Amazon, Sony and Steam.