Why is cloud gaming so important and what does it require? Here we look across the leading platforms to identify the connection criteria needed to achieve ultimate performance. Cloud services are everywhere across entertainment these days and gaming is no exception. The global market is reported to be worth a staggering $1.6bn this year, rising to $4.98bn by 2025. So it’s already a very big deal.
It can also be confusing for those keen to join the party, with a myriad of platforms to choose from. This guide looks at the options before explaining the broadband requirements every player should strive for.
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What is Cloud Gaming?
Cloud gaming, in its purest form, is essentially gaming hosted online. Players connect to web servers in order to run and play, literally streaming the games on-demand over the internet. One of the advantages of cloud gaming is that you do not need powerful hardware to play, as all the heavy processing is done by the cloud gaming server. Devices that support cloud gaming include desktop PCs, consoles, tablets, and mobile phones.
Cloud Gaming Benefits
So why is cloud-based gaming a good thing? There are some key benefits of offline playing that are worth highlighting:
- Zero installs. Games are streamed from data center servers, so don’t require installation on the player’s device.
- Instant updates. Patches are added automatically, requiring no large annoying downloads to get the latest bug-free versions.
- Universal access. Play across multiple web-enabled devices from any location.
What are the Best Platforms for Cloud Gaming?
The selection of exciting cloud gaming platforms is growing all the time. Leading names from the console world are now being rivaled by web giants to give players broad options.
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PlayStation Now is Sony’s subscription service for PlayStation Network (PSN) members. A large library of games including retro PS1 and PS2 titles can be streamed across PS4/5 and Windows PC. New games are added monthly, including classic franchises and first-party exclusives like Uncharted. Minimum spec PC users (Windows 10+) need the free app installed and a compatible USB controller. An active broadband connection of 5 Mbps+ is recommended.
NVIDIA’s cloud gaming service is GeForce NOW, offering free and premium access for players. With new games added every Thursday, the library of titles includes the Assassin’s Creed, Hitman, and Far Cry series. Stream from within a web browser across PC, Mac, Android, and iPhone, or via the dedicated app. In terms of required connection speeds, GeForce NOW requires at least the following:
- 15 Mbps+ for 720p at 60fps
- 25 Mbps+ for 1080p at 60fps
- 35 Mbps+ for 1440-1600p at 120fps
Players are advised to also use a hardwired Ethernet connection or a 5GHz wireless router.
Google Stadia is a subscription service with “Pro” members given free access to an impressive collection of games. Titles span the likes of Ghost Recon, FIFA 22, and Resident Evil Village. Single titles can also be bought individually from the Stadia store, accessible via Chrome browser or the Stadia smartphone app. Playing on TVs is also supported via the Stadia Controller sold separately. Google stipulates that 10 Mbps+ download and 1 Mbps+ upload speeds are the minimum recommended.
Xbox Cloud Gaming
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members can enjoy subscription-based access to Xbox Cloud Gaming. With an expanding menu of 100+ console and PC titles, the service is supported by multiple devices.
Aside from the Xbox One and Series X/S systems, players can use Windows PCs, Surface tablets, and Android mobiles too. In terms of connection, 5Ghz Wi-Fi or mobile data network with at least 20 Mbps download is recommended.
Amazon Luna is cloud gaming’s new kid on the block. Launched October 2021 in the US only, the service supports Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone, and Fire TV.
An optional Luna Controller improves cloud connectivity across all devices, with tight Twitch support attractive for keen streamers. Partnership with Ubisoft promises access to their latest hottest titles alongside an expanding list of classics from Capcom, 505 Games, and Team 17. Amazon recommends a connection speed of 10 Mbps+ to support streaming at 1080p video quality.
How Important is Broadband Speed?
Broadband speed is crucial. Streaming games, like video, is intensive on bandwidth so fiber-optic broadband is recommended. More information is available in Broadband Genie’s guide to fibre broadband.
Most cloud gaming services suggest a minimum download speed of 10 Mbps, with faster rates necessary for higher graphical resolutions:
- Download speed = 10-25 Mbps+
- Upload speed = 1-3 Mbps+
More bandwidth also allows for more devices to play simultaneously. This is especially important in shared or family households with multiple gamers, as each device will increase the demand for the connection.
How Can I Optimize My Cloud Gaming Experience?
No matter what bandwidth you have, there are some tips for better results:
- Test your “ping” time. Many games let you check this communication speed between you and the servers, with 20-50ms or below most preferable.
- Use closer servers. If possible, switch to servers situated nearest your location.
- Stronger signal. Position your WiFi router centrally and away from walls or appliances. Use 5Ghz (802.11ac or ax) Wi-Fi mode if supported.
- Go wired. Connect via Ethernet cable for the best and fastest performance.
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