What is the best gaming platform

The best cloud gaming providers 2021

Cloud gaming - the current megatrend in gaming is on everyone's lips. But what does that mean? In the end, it's very simple - cloud gaming is designed to eliminate the need for hardware, physical games, and long downloads. Similar to Netflix for films and series or Spotify for music, all content - i.e. games - is streamed live from the Internet, without interruption or waiting time. The big difference and advantage lies in the hardware mentioned. Because where the latest and extremely expensive top-quality hardware is required for the latest games, a simple playback device such as a TV or an old PC and, if necessary, the provider's receiver is sufficient for cloud gaming. The games themselves then run on remote computer farms and are only streamed. New hardware or long downloads are no longer required. However, very fast connections are of course required for cloud gaming; sensible gaming is in principle not possible below 5 Mbit per second.

The customers only acquire the right to stream the respective games. The concepts of the individual providers are different. Often there is a kind of games flat rate, which is supplemented by titles that have to be purchased. There are five major vendors out there who want to usher in the revolution.

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GeForce Now

GeForce Now was officially launched at the beginning of February, after which the service was available in a free beta phase for years. GeForce Now is offered in two versions: users can choose between a monthly subscription of 5.50 euros (promotional price! Price may change after 12 months) and a limited free version. The free version limits the current playing time to just one hour. The service is offered by Nvidia, a hardware manufacturer that actually specializes in graphics cards. Geforce Now runs on devices with Android, macOS, Windows and Nvidia's own System Shield TV. The service is particularly exciting for Mac players, as they usually only have a very limited selection of games - this is no longer necessary with cloud gaming. GeForce Now already supports over thousands of games, including top titles like Fortnite or Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds. You can easily find out whether your game is supported on this page. No extra hardware is required for the system, the streaming software is simply installed on an existing system. This is of course extremely convenient. According to the provider, the possible frame rate is between 60 and 120 FPS, which of course depends on your own internet connection. Existing games in a Steam, Uplay or Battle.net library can be used with Geforce Now without any problems. GeForce Now is currently available in Europe and North America. Since mid-November, GeForce Now has been able to be used on iPhone and iPad thanks to the web app (you can therefore not find Now in the App Store, but access via the Safari browser). This makes GeForce Now the first major cloud gaming service available on Apple's mobile devices.


PlayStation Now

The PlayStation Now service is available for the Playstation and the PC. The games can be streamed from the Playstation to the PC, provided that there is a good internet connection. This gives PC gamers the opportunity to play the top Playstation titles on their PC for the first time. PlayStation Now is already live and can be subscribed to (and canceled) for a year or monthly. The selection is impressive. Over 650 games are already available in the library and new titles are added every month. The available games range from AAA blockbusters like Red Dead Redemption or Mafia 3 to exclusive PS titles like Bloodborne to indie pearls and smaller titles. All games can also be downloaded to the Playstation 4 hard drive so that they can also be played offline. This is a big advantage of the platform because the internet can also fail, which is a big problem with cloud gaming. In addition, the maximum resolution of 4k (1080p for supported games) and maximum frames per second are guaranteed. The games can be played as long as you want, there is no time limit after which you have to re-register or something similar. With a one-week test version, interested players can first check whether the offer is the right streaming service.


Google Stadia

The search engine giant Google enters the gaming stage with Google Stadia. The service has been available for pre-orderers since November 2019, while the standard version has been announced for 2020. Due to the tremendous market power of Google, this is of course an extremely exciting development. However, Stadia got off to a bumpy start in November. Many of the announced features, such as the "State Share", ie linking to certain game situations, were not available at the start. The first Stadia testers also complained about technical difficulties. The games run on Google servers and are streamed to the customers' end devices. Similar to other providers, Google combines a monthly subscription with paid individual games. Games will be added monthly, but the library is not yet known. The games should run in 4k resolution and 60 FPS. If you buy new games on Stadia, you have to pay the normal price in most cases, which is between 50 and 70 euros. Unfortunately, games that have already been purchased that have been purchased on another platform cannot be used under Stadia. However, the games purchased directly on Stadia can be streamed in 1080p anytime, anywhere, without lugging around expensive and bulky hardware. Google currently offers a limited Founder's Edition, which contains the Chromecast Ultra required for playing on TV and a limited controller. However, this edition is almost sold out in some countries. In addition to the TV, Stadia should also be compatible with computers and even tablets and some smartphones.

Due to the corona crisis, Google is currently offering Stadia free of charge for two months. However, the tariff is automatically converted into a chargeable one, which is why you should cancel early.


Microsoft xCloud

The xCloud is Microsoft's answer to Google's Stadia. The project was presented at E3 2019 in a very short five-minute slot. Florian Liewer, Director Xbox Gaming in German-speaking countries, explains to t3n: Gaming in the cloud is an extension, an additional option for all gamers out there “. Microsoft is therefore initially cautious in the area of ​​cloud gaming. xCloud works in a similar way to Playstation Now. On the official page, where you can register for the preview version of Project xCloud, you can find out that Xbox games such as Gears 5, Halo 5, Killer Instinct or Sea of ​​Thieves can be downloaded directly from the cloud to a mobile device Device is streamed. According to Microsoft, a mobile device with Android version 6 or older is required. You will also be able to play games on the iPhone and iPad via the xCloud. However, there should be no app for this. Gambling takes place via the browser, via Safari to be precise. The reason for this is supposed to be a "seamless experience" for Xbox users and different types of players. There is an insight into the browser version on the IT blog The Verge. At first the xCloud will only be available in America, England and South Korea. Microsoft has been distributing invitations for the preview in Germany since April 28, 2020. Due to COVID-19, only a very limited group of participants have the opportunity to test Project xCloud. However, these should be increased over time.

In a blog post in July 2020, Microsoft announced that its own cloud gaming service Project xCloud will be linked to its own Xbox Game Pass subscription. So if you are already a customer of the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, you will also be able to use the cloud gaming service at no extra charge. However, if you are not a subscription to the Game Pass Ultimate, you should first look inside the tube. At the market launch you cannot book xCloud separately. In the USA, xCloud will join the Game Pass Ultimate in September. The release date for Germany has not yet been set.


Vortex

Vortex is a rather small provider compared to the other providers, but that does not mean that the selection of titles is worse. Over 100 popular games such as Fortnite, Apex Legends, Teamfight Tactics or League of Legends are already available for streaming. But also big single player titles like Witcher 3 or Shadow of the Tomb Raider are available in the library. 50 hours of play are acquired with a monthly subscription. This is certainly not enough for frequent gamblers, but sufficient for normal hobby gamers, even if other providers are ahead here. However, some games such as GTA V must be purchased on Steam before they can be played via Vortex. With Vortex, the titles can also be played on platforms other than those actually intended, for example Counter-Strike can be played on Android. Like all other providers, Vortex also provides the necessary hardware so that a high-end computer is no longer required. You can even emulate controllers with your own apps for mobile platforms. On the official Vortex homepage there is a ping test which shows whether your own internet speed is sufficient for cloud gaming with the provider.


Blade Shadow

The Blade Shadow is also an offer that has been on the market for some time. As with all providers, 4k and 60 FPS should be achieved with the appropriate line. Shadow also offers a monthly and annual subscription. However, the Blade Shadow pursues a different concept than the other providers, because there is no subscription to a game database, only a complete computer, but in the cloud. This allows an old PC to be transformed into a brand new gaming machine, which no longer needs to be updated with new hardware. The advantage is obvious: you can play all your own games, regardless of whether they have already been purchased or future purchases. The user is therefore not dependent on the offer of a certain provider, but can use every available game. It is also possible, for example, to install game mods or to use the rented hardware for other purposes, such as image or video editing. This clearly distinguishes the company from other services and is particularly interesting for frequent gamers who always want their hardware to be up-to-date without having to constantly buy the latest hardware. The system works on the PC as well as on the Mac and the Smart TV, it is easy to switch between these devices.


Project Atlas

Compared to the other cloud gaming providers, EA is far behind with its own offer: "Project Atlas". In October 2018, Ken Moss, Chief Technology Officer at Electronic Arts, officially announced Project Atlas. The first tests then took place around a year later in September 2019. In an open test for two weeks, for example, the EA Sports ‘Kick" FIFA 19 "games, the shooter" Titanfall 2 ", the racing game" Need for Speed ​​Rivals "and the puzzle platform" Unravel "could be tried out in the cloud. While the test phase only took place for the PC, the cloud streaming service is also to be expanded to other platforms (including smartphones, tablets and smart TVs). However, since the last test there is no further information about Project Atlas. The official start date is also still open.


Magenta Gaming

If you want to rely on a German provider for cloud gaming, Magenta Gaming from Deutsche Telekom could be something for you. The cloud gaming platform was presented in the run-up to gamesgom in August 2019. Magenta Gaming has been in the beta phase since August 24, 2019, and you can only log on to the service as a Telekom customer. In addition, you need an Internet connection with at least 50 Mbit / s. There have been over 100 games to choose from since the beginning, although the quality is rather mixed and there are only very few known games, such as The Witcher 3 or League of Legends.


Amazon Luna

In September 2020, Amazon presented its cloud gaming platform Luna. This was also the starting signal for applying for Early Access in the USA. The starting price is 6 US dollars a month and should allow access to a range of games on all possible devices with a display. Compared to the other cloud gaming providers, however, Amazon primarily wants to provide the infrastructure for cloud gaming. The actual content, i.e. the games, should come from the game studios themselves. It is not yet known when Amazon Luna will also start in Germany. More information about Amazon Luna is available at: https://www.amazon.com/luna/landing-page


Blacknut

If you want to combine cloud gaming with a real flat rate game, you should take a closer look at the Blacknut cloud gaming service. According to the company, there are around 500 games waiting for the whole family in the cloud. If you take a closer look at the games catalog, you will look in vain for Triple-A titles. You can find a lot of casual games and indie games, but of course they are just as fun. Although the top titles are missing, there are really no additional costs for the player. A connection with 6 MB / s or 4G is required and up to five separate accounts can be set up. With that, Blacknut can really be compared a little with Netflix. Just for games and unfortunately without the really big blockbusters.


frequently asked Questions

In the following, some of the most frequently asked questions about cloud gaming providers are answered again in compact form.

How fast does the internet need to be for cloud gaming?

For example, Google specifies a minimum speed of 10 Mbit per second. Experience has shown that this is only sufficient for a 720p resolution. If you want more, you need between 15 and 25 Mbit / s for 1080p, for example. For 4k, however, the internet speed should be at least 35 Mbit / s.

When it comes to internet speed, it is not just the transmission speed that is important, but also its stability. Fluctuations should be avoided, as otherwise smooth gaming is almost impossible. In contrast to video streaming services, cloud gaming services cannot pre-buffer (preload) the content.

Which cloud gaming provider is the best?

Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to this question, as various factors play a role here. But here in this article we have already presented the best cloud gaming providers so that you can test them again for yourself.

What latency do you have to expect in cloud gaming?

Latency is the delay between a key press and the reaction visible on the screen. The computer magazine c’t tested various cloud gaming services in its 26th issue of December 7, 2019 and, for example, was able to determine an additional latency of 50 to 95 milliseconds compared to a game running locally in an initial sample measurement at Google Stadia with Chrome. With a delay of around 120 milliseconds, the value was comparable to a latency value when playing the game on a game console. For the other services, the c’t testers were able to determine a value of 20 to 90 milliseconds for the basic latency of the computer for Shadow, while it was a little more with PS Now under Windows.

Your opinion is asked

What do you think is the best cloud gaming provider? Write in the comments your experiences with the different providers!

Article was published on November 2nd, 2019, last updated on May 16th, 2021.