2 Xbox controllers on a dark background and cloud gaming icons

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Cloud gaming?

A cloud server icon

Cloud gaming or game streaming is when you play online video games on a remote server in a data center. Cloud gaming is also known as gaming on demand or gaming as a service, and is based on the idea of being able to play the newest games available from a range of devices, as long as you have a good internet connection and a subscription with a Cloud gaming provider.

Cloud gaming has been around since the late 2000s and has struggled to compete with computer and console hardware-based games. But with new technology advancements and faster internet speeds, it has remerged in the last few years and now it is catching up with the service’s ambitions.

Cloud gaming services will often provide an app or a web-based browser to stream the games once you have signed up. You can then play with your preferred controller (most are compatible via Bluetooth) and you can even use the touchscreen on your phone through some suppliers.

There are a handful of providers that have recently emerged onto the scene. Nvidia® announced GeForce NOW back in 2015. It is now one of the most popular choices, with over 500 games ready to play instantly and over 14 million subscribers (though many of these are free accounts).

Stadia icon

Stadia™* is Google’s take on the Cloud gaming phenomenon. OS-agnostic, it is accessible in multiple formats, from Chromecast Ultra™ and Android™ TV devices, to Chrome OS™ tablets and PCs with the Google Chrome™ browser, to supported Android phones with the Stadia™ mobile app. After going through some restructuring in response to criticisms following its release in 2019, it has gained a subscription base of 2 million. Console powerhouses have also tried to get their slice of the pie.

PlayStation™ Now, Sony’s Cloud gaming platform, boasts the "new and old games" feature, which allows you to play games from all the way back to the PS2. It predates GeForce NOW, having been released in 2014. After some initial problems, it has gained 3.2 million subscribers with Cloud gaming services for PS2™, PS3™, and PS4™ games, as well as download options for PS2 and PS4 games. In all, 800 games are available for streaming, 300 of which can be downloaded.

Xbox® Cloud Gaming, released in 2019, is Microsoft’s answer to PlayStation Now, a feature of Xbox® Game Pass. With Xbox Cloud Gaming you are able to play on a range of devices, including mobile devices. Its library offers over 270 games, featuring backward compatibility with the previous library of Xbox® titles. Xbox® Game Pass has an incredible 25 million subscribers, making it the business model to emulate for many services out there.

There are many other Cloud gaming services available that we haven't mentioned. Although there is a provider to suit the needs of every gamer, as the user you just need to decide what interests you the most!

There are a handful of pros and cons which could change a user's mind on whether to choose a computer system or a Cloud gaming provider:

As an upside, you don't have to worry about minimum or maximum specifications when it comes to this level of gaming. The Cloud server enables users to play on any device at any time within the provider's terms. As long as a steady broadband connection to the server is available, you should be able to connect from anywhere in the world. With this in mind, having to stream from an outsourced server will require even more data compared to a standard system download, so if you don’t have excellent broadband speeds you may struggle with this method.

Subscription play has its perks. Once you make the purchase, you have a huge catalog of games to choose from. Having the freedom to pick and choose what you want to play is appealing to a lot of gamers, but others would have to weigh that against the cost of paying for the subscription and for good broadband.

Video compression plays a big part in why the vast majority of people prefer a gaming system rather than Cloud gaming. Just like on YouTube and other streaming providers, the videos are compressed to take up less bandwidth. This means the gameplay won’t have as high a resolution as a game purchased on disc or by direct download.

Cloud gaming is now in a transitional period. It hasn't yet eclipsed the traditional model of purchasing and playing games at home. However, services such as the highly successful Xbox Game Pass, with its Xbox Cloud Gaming element, are helping to set a new standard for play. The technical limitations of the service mean that in some parts of the world, Cloud gaming just isn’t viable yet for many of the high-demand, high-speed AAA titles on the market, although to completely rule it out would be wrong. Technology is changing all the time, so at some point the standard bandwidth for broadband could be more than suitable for this way of gaming. The speed and graphics of dedicated gaming hardware offer a strong argument when making the decision between hardware and Cloud gaming.

Kingston has a range of products that could supercharge your computer’s system. Kingston FURY Renegade PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 SSD offers blazing speeds of up to 7,300/7,000MB/s read/write** and capacities from 500GB to 4TB*** to store all your favorite games and media, making it the perfect SSD for your gaming PC, along with Kingston FURY™ Beast DDR5 RGB memory that takes speed, capacity and reliability even further, giving you the advantages and capabilities you need to exceed system limitations and set new standards.

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