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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 it 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 will then be able to play with your chosen 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, as it was released in 2014. After some teething 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, with 300 able to 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, even mobile. 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 have not mentioned. Although there is a provider to suit the needs of every gamer, a choice just needs to be made on what interests you, the user, the most!

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

As an upside, there is no high or low specification needed when it comes to this level of gaming. The Cloud server enables users to play on any device at any time within the providers 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 need even more data compared to the standard system download, so if you don’t have excellent broadband speeds you may struggle with this method.

Subscribing to play has its perks. Once purchased, you are put in front of a huge catalogue of games you can pick from. Having the freedom to pick and choose what you want to play is of interest to a lot of gamers, but others would have to put paying for good broadband and the cost of the subscription into consideration.

Video compression plays a big part in why a 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 be as high resolution compared to a disc or direct download.

At this point in time, Cloud gaming is in a transitional period. It has not 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 serving to normalise a new way to play. The technical limitations of the service mean that in some parts of the world, Cloud gaming just isn’t viable 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 gaming hardware provide a strong argument when making the decision between hardware or Cloud gaming.

Kingston has a range of products which 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 favourite games and media, making it the perfect gaming SSD for your PC, along with Kingston FURY™ Beast DDR5 RGB memory that takes speed, capacity and reliability even further, giving you the advantage you need to experience the capabilities of exceeding system limitations and setting new standards.

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