With technological advancements on the rise, video streaming services have no doubt been on a roll due to a multitude of factors. Convenient, scalable and personalised, it is easy to see why many are dropping cable TV subscriptions and instead looking towards video streaming services such as Netflix.
As such, it probably comes as little to no surprise that streaming services have now further extended to game streaming services, especially with esports and the gaming community surging in popularity. The trend of people shifting to mobile platforms is also becoming increasingly widespread, with how easily accessible streaming can be.
The amount of untapped potential cloud gaming has is unmatched – likely the reason why big software companies want to be the Netflix of gaming. Microsoft and Nvidia are currently leading the charge, but they are also faced with plenty of competition in the market, with Google Stadia being one such rival.
If you are looking to hop on board game streaming service subscriptions yourself, then here are some of our takes on the respective game streaming services and their unique selling points.
GeForce Now (Nvidia)
By simply connecting your Steam, Epic Games Store or Ubisoft Connect account to GeForce Now, you will be granted access to a slew of over 1000 exciting games right at your fingertips – including many free-to-play titles. Despite the fixed amount of games which does not change even with a premium membership, Nvidia makes up for it by offering different tiers that correspond to different levels of performance and fidelity.
GeForce Now has free memberships available and offers up to 1080p at 60fps. However, each session’s length is limited to an hour and paid memberships are prioritised first, hence one would likely have to wait in queues for an available slot on Nvidia’s machines.
The Priority tier, otherwise known as the paid memberships, offers up to 1080p at 60fps as well, but also adds ray tracing and an extended session length of up to six hours. It also has flexible plans of $9.99 per month or $49.99 for six months of access.
The latest tier, RTX 3080, guarantees performance equivalent to Nvidia’s high-end graphics card and offers players 1440p at 120fps on either a PC or Mac, or 4k HDR gaming. By paying $99.99 for a six month subscription, players may enjoy a gaming session of up to 8 hours with top-tier access to servers.
GeForce Now is no doubt ideal for veteran gamers with an extensive library of PC games. Playable on multiple devices with high quality frame rates, it is available on platforms such as PC, Mac, Nvidia Shield, and Android.
Its potential drawbacks come down to a few, if not many. Firstly, although GeForce Now’s main selling point would be their leverage on your current library of games, not every PC game might be compatible with the service. Additionally, both the free and paid tiers require players to wait in queues and there are time limits for how long you are able to play. The paid tier is no exception, though they face a shorter queue and receive a longer playing time.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (XPGU – Microsoft)
Microsoft Game Pass offers up to 3 flexible plans depending on players’ preferences, ranging from PC, Console, and Ultimate. The Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is the best by far as it offers the full package – including the Xbox Live Gold, exclusive Perks, and more.
For first-timers looking to go with either the PC Game Pass or XPGU plan, you may get the first months for each respective plan at simply $1. Subsequent months for the PC plan costs $14.99 a month, and it utilises only a Windows-only Xbox app for downloading and installing a portion of locally-run games from the Game Pass library. PC Game Pass is also inclusive of EA Play, which would typically cost $5 per month or $30 annually. As these are full PC games, this plan would be most ideal for those that already have a gaming laptop/desktop with a graphics card, processor and loads of available hard drive space.
Next up, we have the Console Game Pass which comes at $14.90 per month, and it includes a library of downloadable games for the Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S consoles. Even as games enter and leave the library, players’ progress on these games can be shifted to other storefronts such as Steam. Though, Forza and Halo are Microsoft staples and are likely permanent games that are here to stay.
To access online multiplayer on your game titles, you would require a separate $10 per month Xbox Live subscription. As such, XPGU would be the most value for money in this aspect as the option to play online multiplayer is included in the package. Of course, if we are talking about free-to-play games such as Fortnite, then multiplayer is included within the game and does not require an Xbox Live subscription.
XPGU would expectedly be the best option in terms of value for money and performance, especially for those who enjoy gaming on both PC and consoles. For $19.99 per month, you get to experience the whole package – console and PC game libraries, EA Play perks and discounts, and even Xbox Gold. You also get access to Xbox Cloud Gaming on multiple devices such as phones, iPads, and Macbooks.
A minor drawback is that its cloud gaming stream is currently still restricted at 1080p at 60fps. This falls short in comparison to other services such as Nvidia and Stadia, which offer 1440p at 120fps and 4K respectively.
Google Stadia Pro
Google Stadia is a free-to-use platform on its own, however each game is to be bought individually unless they are free-to-play games such as Crayta, Destiny 2, Hitman (Starter Pack), Super Bomberman R Online, and PUBG. This free tier, otherwise known as Stadia, allows games to be streamed at 1080p 60fps with a standard stereo audio.
For USD$9.99 per month, Google Stadia Pro offers instant access to 4K 60fps streaming with 5.1 surround sound audio on Chromecast or PC, alongside 1080p at 60fps on mobile devices. A free one month trial is also offered to first-time subscribers of Google Stadia Pro.
Furthermore, as long as players have an active account, they are able to look forward to occasional free games which will permanently stay in their library. This paid tier also offers several discounts of 50% to 70% off retail prices, which is a pretty big difference compared to what you get on a standard Stadia subscription.
There is a downside to all of this though, which is few games actually meeting the much anticipated 4K 60fps streaming that Google Stadia Pro has guaranteed in the beginning. Most games end up just topping out at 1440p at 60fps while others are limited to 30fps when streaming at a 4K resolution. This has been largely speculated to be the result of Stadia lacking in terms of upgrading their cloud hardware.
Nevertheless, Stadia does have its benefits, which lie in its capability to be picked up and played on multiple devices. With Stadia, there is also no need for required updates as it constantly manages the necessary updates within the server, hence booting the game up immediately from the Stadia interface should be a piece of cake.
If you are just starting out and are interested in experiencing the perks of cloud gaming, Microsoft is more than ideal for those who don’t really have a big collection of games. On the other handNvidia is an excellent option for those that are already experienced gamers and have a sizable collection of games.
With cloud gaming in the picture, whether you are a casual or veteran gamer, there is now something for everyone in the world of gaming and its streaming services.