Cloud gaming is upon us, and with the recent announcements at E3, companies like Google, Microsoft and Nvidia are competing for the future of gaming, and it’s looking very interesting.
What exactly is cloud gaming?
Cloud gaming uses server farms instead of local computing power to render and process graphics and gameplay. This allows machines below the minimum or required specs of a game to play in blazing fast frame rates and high resolutions without the huge investment in a gaming computer. With most cloud gaming, you’ll need a controller, or another HID to play, but you can play games directly on your phone, tablet or TV. Some of the graphics may be blurry, but that depends on your rendering device’s screen resolution, and more importantly, your internet connection.
The ability to use any device was demonstrated at E3 recently, when Microsoft revealed their XCloud solution and had an Xbox controller connected to an Android phone that was being used as a display. The results were pretty stunning.
Who’s playing in the space?
Nvidia has been working on GeForce Now since 2015. It is currently in beta and getting your hands on a beta key has been a challenge for gamers. GeForce is subscription based, and has up to 400 games in their service. You need to have a Nvidia Shield, PC or Mac, and download the GeForce app, which runs in the background. Currently, you are limited to 4 hours per session and there is no 4k content at the moment.
Shadow is live and offers a virtual PC that plays games at 60hz 4k. You can load any game you own onto the virtual PC and play on any devices using their app. They recommend a stable connection of 15mb for optimal performance. With a subscription, each virtual PC has a whopping 12GB of memory, 256GB storage, and the equivalent of GTX 1080 graphics card.
Google Stadia announced a closed beta with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in fall of 2018, and is anticipated to launch in November of 2019. The service only requires a device with internet connection and support for Google Chrome. Stadia is to have 4k resolution at 60 fps and looks towards support for 8k at 120 fps. Stadia will offer two tiers of service, a free Base level and a monthly subscription Pro level. The Pro tier will be approximately US$10 per month, but allows users to access higher streaming rates, access a library of free games over time, and get discounts on other games offered for Stadia. Players can opt to record or stream their sessions onto YouTube through Stadia. Viewers of these streams can launch the games directly from the stream with the same save state that they were just watching. While Stadia can use any HID-class USB controller, Google developed its own controller which connects via WiFi directly to the Google datacenter running the game, to reduce input latency.
XCloud leverages Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing centers, and the power of Xbox Live’s deep catalog. Boasting 3500 titles ready to stream and 1900 more in development, the sheer weight of content is on XCloud’s side. XCloud will have cross-platform play and will start public testing towards the end of 2019. The Azure cloud computing centers cover 140 countries, giving XCloud some serious global might. The service is designed to work on phones, tablets, and laptops, and can use touchscreen or a Bluetooth Xbox controller. While XCloud is still veiled in several mysteries and not all the details have been released publicly, this is one service to keep your eye on.
All of these services require a dedicated internet connection, and the NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro Gaming routers are already here to keep your connection stable and consistent, a critical factor when all of your heavy computing is in the cloud and where every millisecond counts.
The times are changing, and the days of high-end gaming rigs might be numbered by the use of cloud computing. Competitions can standardize their equipment for tournaments and events with these solutions. Casual players don’t have to invest thousands of dollars to be remotely competitive online.
It’s pretty exciting to watch the future unfold and we are very interested in what develops.
Till next time Nighthawks!