Google Stadia was released on 19th of November, 2019. After garnering a lot of pre-release hype and attention, it received a mixed response on its full release. But Google Stadia is just one in a big bunch of similar services vying to get your money. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, fret not; we have tried to list all the details, pros and cons of the major services for you under a single article.
This is the general name given by Nvidia for its streaming services, under which come two devices, the SHIELD TV and the SHIELD K1 tablet. On these devices, you can run two streaming services; the GeForce Now or GameStream.
Starting with GeForce now, it is a newer service. To use this service, you need to own any laptop, Mac, desktop, Mac, Android or the Nvidia SHIELD TV. On them, you use this service to connect to the marketplaces like Steam, Origin, uPlay, et al using your credentials, from where you can play the games you already own. The games run on a remote server, and are streamed to your device via any internet connection.
This service has two tiers. A free tier and a paid tier ($5 per month). The free tier gives you a 1 hour session whereas the paid tier gives you a 6 hour session. RTX is enabled on the paid tier. On the paid tier, you also get priority access to servers.
This service supports many controllers. Although a few publishers have pulled their games from this platform (they want to be able to control how their games are presented and distributed), any other game should run. Many big publishers like Activision and Capcom have also pulled their games, reportedly due to them wanting a chunk of that $5 per month fee.
One of the issues with this is that this service does not have a list of games supported. Also, the resolution and frame rates supported are 1080p at 60 fps, or 720p at 120 fps. Latency is to be expected over a Wi-Fi or ethernet connection, and it becomes more and more noticeable as the internet speed drops or ping time rises. No signs of heavy anti-aliasing, and the video quality looks good to the naked eye.
This service is not available in India yet, but we can hope for it to arrive soon.
For people having a decent rig (with a GeForce GTX graphics card) that can run games well but you can’t access it physically, Nvidia GameStream might be a better option. This service streams games directly from your PC, and has a greater compatibility with controllers and less specific network requirements than GeForce Now.
Another lucrative service is Stadia offered by Google. This service has a complicated controller support, and you need to own the Stadia Controller and Chromecast Ultra to be able to use it. You do not need to own any other devices (like a laptop) to be able to play games on this service, but games you buy on Stadia are solely available on Stadia. You can’t play them on any other services or devices.
Only Pro tier is available now, which costs $10 per month. Free tier is claimed to be arriving next year. Under the Pro tier, there are a few free games bundled, and you can buy games from the 40 available games in the Stadia library, which is pretty small compared to its competition. Here the games are usually costlier than on other marketplaces, hence this might be an enticing service for the game developers.
Game exclusives are rumoured to be arriving on this platform.
Unlike GeForce Now, this has maximum resolution support of 4k at 60 fps. Interestingly, there is a more visible latency on this platform as compared to GeForce Now. Anti-aliasing is so forced at times that finer details are lost. Grass looks as if it is smudged across the screen. Post-processing is also worse than that in GeForce Now. Overall quality-wise Google Stadia tends to be worse-off than its competition.
Project xCloud and Xbox App:
Currently in preview, Project xCloud is offered by Microsoft. Until public release, this is meant to be an invite-only service. Android, iOS and iPad OS exclusive as of now. Project xCloud does not require you to own an Xbox console for you to use this service. This works using any controller which is supported on Android, iOS and iPad OS. Under the preview, one can play any of the supported Xbox games for free. There are many games available right now, and many are from very reputed studios. Also, since you are limited to the small display of a handheld device, finer details can sometimes be overlooked. Games that are made for large displays can many a time look a bit odd on the smaller displays as well. As the games stream over Wi-Fi, frame drops and latency is to be expected. Microsoft has stated that on full launch, Project xCloud will be integrated into Xbox Game Pass.
Microsoft stated that it is working with Jio to release it in India by the end of the year. We can only wait and watch.
The Xbox app is pre-installed on Windows 10 machines, and allows you to stream games you own on an Xbox One, One S or One X directly to your Windows PC. You can use all features like in-game chat and even use an Oculus Rift to experience VR gameplay.
Sony PlayStation Now and PS4 Remote Play:
PlayStation Now is the oldest such service in this list. It has been available since 2014, and as a result, has had a lot of time to mature. This is supported on either a PlayStation or Windows PC. Mac devices not supported. This has the biggest library of games out of all the four services, with over 200 games in its arsenal from the PlayStation 2, 3, and 4 eras. Like the others, this is also a subscription-based service, with cost ranging from $5 to $10 per month according to the length of plan you choose. Streaming is limited to 720p only, but the video quality looks surprisingly good for a 720p output. Again, latency depends on your Internet connection. This supports any controller that can be used on a PlayStation or a Windows PC. Like Microsoft, Sony is also gearing up to launch PS Now in India later this year.
PS4 Remote Play allows you to stream games from your PS4 console to your desktop and a few Xperia phones. It is practically the same as the Xbox app, but you need to own the DualShock 4 controller, which you of course will if you have a PS4.
Steam Link and Steam Link Anywhere:
Now these are two similarly named but different services offered by Steam. Steam Link is an in-home streaming solution which allows you to stream games installed on one of your computers (Windows, Mac or PC) to any other desktop, laptop, phone, tablet or a TV connected to the same network and controlled by a keyboard or a controller. So, you need two devices which are logged in to the same Steam account and you can stream the games you own from one device to another. It utilises the processing power of your host PC to stream to your other device.
Steam Link Anywhere allows you to play games you already own on Steam, remotely on an Android device, or the ill-fated Steam Link box. The games will run on your own PC, but you will be able to play the games anywhere, unlike Steam Link which requires both devices to be connected on the same network.
To summarize everything in the form of a table:
Streaming Service|Streams to|Streams from|Internet connection|Max display output|Cost|Game library :—–:|:—–:|:—–:|:—–:|:—–:|:—–:|:—–: Steam Link|Steam (Windows, Linux, Mac), Android, TV, Steam Link Box|Your gaming PC|Home Network|4K at 60 fps|Free|Your own Steam library Steam Link Anywhere|Android, Raspberry Pi, Steam Link box|Your gaming PC|Fast internet (both upload and download)|Any resolution|Free|Your own Steam library PS4 Remote Play|Windows, Mac, few Xperia phones|Your PS4|15 Mbps internet|1080p at 60 fps|Free|Your PS4 game library PlayStation Now|PS4, Windows|Sony’s servers|5-12 Mbps internet|720p at 60fps|$10/month, $60/year|750+ games, added monthly Google Stadia|Chrome, Chrome OS, Pixel phones, Chromecast Ultra, TV|Google’s servers|30 Mbps internet|4K at 60fps|$10/month, free tier coming next year|40+ and increasing Nvidia GameStream|Nvidia Shield, Moonlight app for Windows, Android, iOS, iPad OS, Mac, Linux, Chrome|Your gaming PC w/ GeForce GPU|Home network or 5 Mbps+ internet|4K at 60fps|Free|Your PC game library Nvidia GeForce Now|Windows, Mac, Nvidia Shield box|Nvidia’s servers|25 Mbps internet|1080p at 60fps|Free or $5/month|500+ supported games Project xCloud|Android, iOS, iPad OS|Microsoft’s servers|10 Mbps+ internet|No fixed resolution|Invite-only right now, rates TBD|85+ and increasing Xbox App|Windows 10|Your Xbox One|Home network|1080p at 60fps|Free|Your Xbox game library
What is the best option for you?
Making the choice can be overwhelming. Choose the service based on what games you want to play, what matters to you, and most importantly affordability. Not every service is released in every region as of publication of this article, so keep that in mind.
Note : Utmost care has been taken to credit the original authors/sources and to make these as apt as possible.