Cloud Gaming?

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Who plays games via cloud services?

Quick backstory ...

I have a PS4. No PC to speak of other than a 10+ year old laptop that could never be called a gaming PC and an iMac from 2009 which is nowhere near capable of gaming today. The PS4 is really at the end of its life and capabilities .... and buying a PS5 is very problematic.

Yes, I've used what was PS Now on the Playstation and that was pretty good.

I've been using cloud gaming services for a while now, starting with GeForce NOW which allowed me to sync my Steam collection initially and I was so impressed, I bought a number of games through Steam that were compatible with the GeForce NOW service and made used of RTX rendering. What I particularly like is just pumping the graphical quality right up and enjoying games as they were intended. Cyberpunk 2077, for example, is an absolutel bust on a regular PS4 and even the Pro is stretched. Streamed, it's a joy to play! I revisited Google Stadia the other week and have been playing some games on that platform. Like GeForce NOW, I am amazed at just how console-quality (and beyond) the games play with almost no perceptible latency and often play better than last gen console as there's no lag on the disk ... so games like Far Cry 5 or 6 or Ghost Recon Breakpoint (or even Wildlands) that suffer laggy loading and prone to drop-ins on the console run smooth as butter when streamed.

Very impressed on paper with Microsoft's new Game Pass Ultimate service ...

... but I don't have an Xbox (although might buy a Series X given I can actually find one to buy whereas I simply can't with a PS5) and so the service is somewhat limited to the cloud gaming element. Nevertheless, I triggered the £1 first month the other day and have pretty much tried out all I want to from the 100 or so games on the cloud platform. Okay, okay, it's still in beta but come on Microsoft! It's pants! Blurry, laggy and to my eyes, pre-last gen console feel to the graphics. I am not impressed. Sure, if I had (say) an Xbox Series X I would make a lot more of the subscription but that puts me back to buying a next gen console and running on-prem where I really am finding much more benefit to accessing hardware as a service and streaming games.

I love the simplicity of firing up the relevant service webpage on my iPhone and Airplaying to my TV or Chromecasting from my Chromebook.

What experiences have you guys had? What services do you use?

Anyone tried Amazon Luna yet? It's US only to date ...
 
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pjgh
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Halifax, Republic of Yorkshire
After much beggaring about with device and browser combinations, I've come to the following conclusions ...

Microsoft Cloud Gaming

Hardware makes almost no difference ... it's cloud, afterall, so the browser is just picking up a stream. I say almost as older machines do have hardware limitations. Set side by side, I'm pulling over 300 Mb/s on my Chromebook versus just 40 Mb/s on my near 10 years old Windows laptop (running Windows 10) and curiously my slightly older iMac (2009 model) pulls 150 Mb/s. Also, spinning disk versus solid state drive ensures the operating system doesn't bog down the experience.

Casting is highly counter-productive and introduces input lag to the experience. That's Chromecast from Chrome OS and whatever Microsoft use for screen projection. That said, Apple Airplay is absolutely up to the job and so running off my iPhone continues to be a very good experience, generally, but the lower than FHD resolution (1334x750 on my 2nd generation SE) can just be pipped by running on a PC and connecting directly via HDMI ... and negates any argument about casting.

Edge browser is best ... just better than Safari (although, remember the near best experience is actually Safari on iOS) but it does get "clarity boost" which is Microsoft's attempt to deal with slight blurriness that comes from their streaming technology. That does give a better experience while the stream itself is clearly in need of improvement, but I suspect once Microsoft get their streaming technology up to par with, say, Stadia or GeForce NOW then that artificial sharpening will become its own problem as it causes high contrast to parts of the image that are completely unnatural.

Oh, and the Xbox application itself on Windows 10 does not "see" my PS4 controller connected via bluetooth yet running in the browser does just fine.
 
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pjgh
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Halifax, Republic of Yorkshire
Steam download site have brought out a new handheld console called the steam deck
a great piece of kit but pricey at over £500

Yeah, that basically a Nintendo Switch from what I can see ... it runs a custom Linux (SteamOS) and leverages the Proton stack to run Windows games. Why you'd want that versus, say, an Xbox Series X/S or a Playstation 5, I don't know.

Stick a Backbone or Kishi around your iPhone and browse to GeForce NOW for £100 or less.
 
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Yeah, that basically a Nintendo Switch from what I can see ... it runs a custom Linux (SteamOS) and leverages the Proton stack to run Windows games. Why you'd want that versus, say, an Xbox Series X/S or a Playstation 5, I don't know.

Stick a Backbone or Kishi around your iPhone and browse to GeForce NOW for £100 or less.
GeForce Now looks interesting, especially the free plan, currently using a 10 year old Macbook Air that struggles with everything so will have to look into this.
 
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pjgh
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Halifax, Republic of Yorkshire
... and that's the attraction.

This is "hardware as a service" so you don't have to put together your own hot-spec PC to find its then out of date a year later and watch it gather dust thereafter. You get to enjoy latest spec hardware, always. That, and you don't have to put up with all the faffing and fiddling with the operating system, patching, incompatibilities, custom ini files. That was the very reason I switched over to consoles in the first place, simply turn on and play.

You do need the games, though ...

... and so, linking your existing Steam account (which, if you play games then you're likely to have a Steam account and some games) to GeForce NOW allows you to play many (most?) of your catalogue straight away. You can also link your Ubisoft+ and Epic Games (and GOG, I think) if you've bought games there. So, this turns your physical purchases that you will have downloaded to play natively into a right to play also via subscription.

You can also try out Stadia (from Google) which will allow you to trigger a free month, I think ...

With Stadia (and GeForce NOW) you don't even need a controller as both will play well with keyboard/mouse input and Stadia kinda adjusts itself on the fly so that games that give key hints like Tomb Raider (press E to activate ... or X on a controller) will give the correct hint given your input device choice. Xbox Cloud doesn't as it assumes you have an Xbox controller. Stadia gives you a bunch of free games every month, which you claim and so long as you have asubscription you'll have access to them. There's also free weekends with AAA games.

Controller-wise, I have a latest PS4 controller which works will all the platforms I'm using: GeForce NOW, Stadia and Xbox Cloud. The Stadia controller is a nice piece of kit and will connect via a Chromecast, Google TV or even just a Chrome browser on any platform. Microsoft Xbox Cloud is best on Edge (no surprise) and gives the clarity boost on Windows and Mac, but not Linux.

So, a couple of platforms that folks can just get started with through a browser on pretty much any computer using keyboard and mouse, and some options for buying a controller like a PS4 or Xbox controller via, say, CEX or eBay for a cheaper alternative or new.

TLDR;

Stadia is fantastic but limited in games. You can play with a keyboard and mouse through a Chrome browser. Given the really excellent crystal-clear graphics, I do hope this continues and more games become available. This is a good choice if you have no games and want to try out cloud gaming.

GeForce NOW is fantastic, but you have to own the games. Again, play with keyboard and mouse via a browser or the application (Windows/Mac). This is a good choice if you have investment in online-purchase games (rather than physical media) to link your accounts and play the games you already own.

Xbox Cloud is still in beta and not so good graphically, but with the Game Pass Ultimate (£1 to trigger a trial month) you get access to 100+ games including a few AAA titles. You need a controller - Xbox or PS4 are good choices. This is likely to become the best option as the Game Pass Ultimate is a superb subscription, but the drip-feed of games into the cloud platform is slow ... they are still trying to see consoles, mind.
 
Last edited:

Mike Smart

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Yeah, that basically a Nintendo Switch from what I can see ... it runs a custom Linux (SteamOS) and leverages the Proton stack to run Windows games. Why you'd want that versus, say, an Xbox Series X/S or a Playstation 5, I don't know.

Stick a Backbone or Kishi around your iPhone and browse to GeForce NOW for £100 or less.
Great info.
my son has a playstation 5 so i’m ok there but because of all my traveling was thinking of a handheld,
Where any hand held would suit me remains to be seen.
I’m in a catch 22 situation.
i was thinking about a gaming laptop but i have a Macbook Pro and love it & don’t want to get rid of it but i guess it doesn’t make sense having two laptops either.
 
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pjgh
Messages
12,850
Location
Halifax, Republic of Yorkshire
... and so this is where cloud gaming becomes a thing. The spec of the laptop does not matter since all the heavy-lifting is being done in the data centre. You're just interacting with the stream.

You do need a good internet connection, mind. That said, it's not as high as you might think for casual gaming. Put in simple terms, cloud gaming is like Netflix for films.
 
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