Gaming in the cloud

We cannot use cloud only for storing massive amounts of data or hosting new applications. Since some time, we can also do gaming in the cloud. There are several services, some have also been already shut down. But some have been around for quite some time and also deliver a good service. I will introduce these services and tell my experiences. Please note, I will be using prices for Germany, these might be different than other countries.

GeForce Now

I have been using Geforce Now for more than a year and I really like it. I do have a fast internet connection and it just works really well. The ping is most of the time between 10 and 20 ms, which makes me not feel any lag. For a fast shooter, it is not sufficient, but for playing Cyberpunk or Need for Speed it was completely fine. I played it a lot in the last months and it worked extremely well.

Sony Playstation now

Sony markets his cloud gaming service as an extension to their game pass. It has several tiers, if you order the most expensive one, you cannot only play all games, but also stream them, including playing on a PC. Playing on the PC is of course a great advantage since you do not need to own a Playstation to play these games. However, if you do have a Playstation, the main advantage is you do not have to download the games and play them locally, but can just start gaming.

AWS Luna

AWS Luna is closely coupled with Twitch, making it nice for streamers. The basic service mainly includes indie games and there are several update options available. I think the most relevant is Ubisoft+, which allows you to stream a huge amout of Ubisoft games.

XBox Live

Microsoft offers a simliar concept like Sony: you pay a little more than the 11€ at Geforce Now, but all games are included. Another nice feature is that you can play Xbox games now on a PC. I tried this a little in the last month and it worked quite well. But there are less settings you can tweak compared to Geforce Now. But streaming worked well and it was fun.

The following table gives you an overwiev on the services:

ServiceCost per monthGames includedWhat can I play?
Geforce Now11€; 22€ for 4k noPC games. See list.
XBox Live17€yesXBox games
SonyyesPlaystation 2, 3, 4 and 5 games
AWS Luna with Ubisoft+18€yesBroad catalog of Ubisoft games and indie games
Overview on cloud gaming services

Another great aspect is that you do not have to take care of updates in the games. You just start it and it you can play. Especially if you do not play a lot, you often need to wait for the latest patch to install before you can start. With GeForce Now you are just good to go. And for the price if 10€ it was also really cheap. They now raised prices to 11, but I still think it is a good deal. However, it might get more expensive in the future making it less attractive than just buying a new PC, even with sinking prices for graphics cards. However, the catalogs are quite different, so you need to select what you want to play before you start. But the services are also quite cheap and billed monthly, so it is also easy to switch services, especially if you do not play a lot.

Renting a complete PC in the cloud

Another option, if you want to do not only gaming, but also media production or AI is the rent a computer in the cloud. This is offered by the hypescalers as well as other services like Shadow. The model is, you get a virtual machine in the cloud where you can install any software you want and it is streamed to you. The disadvantage is you, also need to install drivers and updates.

AWS and Azure also offer simliar services. The biggest difference: Shadow you only pay the flatmate, whereas on Azure and AWS you also have the chance to pay per hour. I just used Shadow for creating a book with holiday pictures. I started out using the small VM (for 30€), but this was not really sufficient, so I went for the more expensive one for 55€. With this hardware, it was great fun. Everything was smooth, ping was long, everything was working great. However, these 55€ per month are quite expensive. In my case, I also did not use it that much, so maybe in the future AWS workspaces or Azure might be even the cheaper option.

Summing up, I think there is a huge potential for all these cases in the cloud. With AWS workspaces and Azure desktop, we also see that the hyperscalers are targeting former users of Citrix and other services. And for private households cloud gaming probably the application that also makes it worth upgrading your internet connection to fast DSL or fiber.