Have you ever tried to play modern AAA titles and power-hungry games on your budget computer or even on your mid to high-end phone? It’s a terrible experience, right? Sometimes, those games can’t even boot up because your system is so underpowered.
What if I told you that you can now play the latest PlayStation and Xbox games without owning a console? And what if I told you that you can play Xbox and power-intensive PC games straight on your phone?
Those, my friends, are Cloud gaming’s promises to us! Let’s talk about it more in-depth and discuss the real-life scenario of cloud gaming as it is right now in early 2022, and what cloud gaming might become in the future.
What Is Cloud Gaming?
Cloud gaming is a pretty confusing term for most people, especially for those people who aren’t even familiar with any cloud system. But the cloud is just any software, program, or system that is not running locally on your device. Instead, it runs on a separate computer or server somewhere else, and the data is just being transferred to your device via the internet.
Have you ever used YouTube, Netflix, or Spotify? Those are examples of cloud streaming services. Have you tried Google Drive, Dropbox, and iCloud Drive? Well, those are examples of cloud storage services.
Cloud Gaming works a lot like streaming services like YouTube, but with games instead of videos or music.
Services like Xbox Cloud, PS Now, Stadia, and GeForce Now are allowing people to stream games over the internet. With Cloud Gaming, most of the data needed to run a game are processed on a computer somewhere else, while your device will only be responsible for sending controller inputs and receiving video feed of what you are playing.
You Might Not Need a GPU Anymore
Yup, you read that right. With cloud gaming, you might not need to get a graphics processing unit (GPU) anymore. That’s a huge relief for anyone who’s been frustrated by the silicone shortage since 2020. Two years later, we’re still dealing with supply chain issues that aren’t expected to end until at least mid to late 2022.
With that, graphics cards are still hard to get, and scalpers are making the ones you can find too expensive. A new graphics card will cost you upwards of $1000. You could buy a whole new laptop or even an overpriced MacBook with that amount of money. And other computer parts, in general, are also more expensive than usual these days.
Cloud gaming can be used as a temporary solution to avoid price-gouged GPUs and computer parts. If you want to play resource-intensive games like Cyberpunk 2077, Red Dead Redemption 2, or even something as old as GTA 5, cloud gaming will allow you to do that without needing a computer with a powerful graphics card.
Don’t believe me? Back in 2020, when Cyberpunk 2077 had just been released, there were only two ways to play the game with RTX On: a high-end gaming PC or through the GeForce Now streaming service.
If you want to try cloud gaming so you can play on a PC without needing a graphics card, then the best cloud gaming services for you are NVIDIA’s GeForce Now which you can use to take advantage of your existing game library from Steam, Epic Games, Uplay, and even GOG. That way, if you do have purchased games from the game stores I mentioned above, then you can hop on to GeForce Now and play the games you already own right now.
For console gamers affected by the PS5 or Xbox Series X shortage, you can play some of the exclusive titles for those consoles through PS Now and Xbox Cloud. If you’re already playing on a PC, though, I also recommend getting the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate so you can play on Xbox Cloud and receive Game Pass benefits.
Scrap That, You Don’t Even Need a PC Anymore
We have services like GeForce Now, Shadow, and Vortex that take advantage of your existing PC game libraries. But most cloud gaming services won’t even require you to have a PC, you can just plop down with your phone or tablet, buy a wireless controller if you want, and you’re basically set.
The biggest cloud gaming service that can do that with is still Xbox Cloud. PC and Android are still the best devices to use for Xbox Cloud, but just about any device you have on hand will probably work. Xbox Cloud works on Mac, iPhones, and iPads, for example. And it runs well (despite only being available to run using browsers). Xbox Cloud might even work on SmartTVs soon. If that happens, well, you might not even need to have consoles anymore!
Exclusive Games? Not Anymore!
With PS Now and Xbox Cloud up and running, some of their exclusive games are now playable on PC. Of course, there are still a ton of exclusive games that are truly exclusive on consoles, but it’s a nice thing to have, especially with Sony and Xbox including some of their best exclusive games and franchises.
For Sony, they included games like the God of War Series (although the latest GOW was already available on PC), Horizon Zero Dawn, Bloodborne, and of course, The Last of Us. As for Xbox, they included games from the Forza Horizon, Halo, and Gears series.
So yeah, if you’ve been scrambling to find a console just to play some of its best exclusives, I recommend trying out PS Now and Xbox Cloud for a month or two. You’ll be able to play all the exclusives you want. I’d only recommend getting a PS5 or PS4 if you want to play the Spider-Man games, Ghost of Tsushima, and other upcoming exclusives that won’t be available on the streaming services, like Horizon Forbidden West and God of War: Ragnarok.
Here’s my experience with cloud gaming. Being someone who lives outside of the United States, most of the services I mentioned don’t even work in my country. But one cloud service I have been able to try out is PS Now.
PS Now isn’t technically available in the Philippines. The whole PS Network doesn’t work well here so we still resort to buying physical discs and gift cards. Even if you have a debit or credit card capable of international purchases, they still won’t allow it for some reason.
So, I went out and purchased a 1-month PS Now subscription card and I was so excited about playing all the God of War games and Red Dead Redemption. I sat down, redeemed the code. To my surprise, I cannot stream most games!
It just shows an error message essentially saying that my network has high latency. I tried a small game named Thomas was Alone, and it ran for a minute but still crashed with a network error message.
Turns out, I really need to be physically near a PSN Server to stream these games. I was so confident that I could make it work since I have a decent internet plan, but ultimately, my cloud gaming experience is a huge disappointment as of now. Fortunately, my PS Now subscription didn’t go to waste since there’s still a huge number of downloadable games in PS Now.
Try Cloud Gaming Now!
I know that there are still a lot of wrinkles with cloud gaming (with availability being the biggest one), but really, it’s all about experiencing it yourself and seeing how it works for you. If you have better luck with cloud gaming than I did, you might even help pave the way as part of the early adopters of this technology. Companies might become more eager to invest in these services and make cloud gaming services more accessible to more and more players like those of us in foreign countries.
As for the future, I’m extremely confident that cloud gaming will be a big thing 5-10 years from now. We won’t need consoles, high-end graphics cards, and other expensive, resource-intensive parts that contribute to electronic waste.
Get Gear for Cloud Gaming
Are you ready to try cloud gaming? Here are some nifty items that I found to be essential for your cloud gaming experience.
The very first thing that became appealing to me when I heard about cloud gaming a year or two ago was the possibility of playing AAA game titles on a phone. Today, that’s an absolute possibility so I think controller phone mounts like the BLUE LAKE above or the PowerA below are extremely essential. They allow Dualshock or Xbox controllers to be mounted to your phone.
Another great way to play these cloud games on your phone is with clip-on controllers like the Razer Kishi below. You’ll have a Nintendo Switch-like experience with this, and of course, you’ll be able to play without input lag since this is designed to connect to your phone’s charging port, it’s the best way to play these cloud games or any mobile games without any input lag.
And of course, here are some PSN and Xbox Gift Cards in case you can’t purchase these services with your debit or credit card (especially if you’re in a foreign country).
With that said, enjoy cloud gaming!