9 best cloud gaming services for streaming games

Last Updated on June 9, 2024 by Jhonni Jets

Cloud gaming has experienced explosive growth in recent years as technology has advanced to allow impressive streaming capabilities. By running games on powerful server hardware in remote data centers, cloud gaming services enable gamers to instantly play blockbuster titles through a web browser or mobile app without needing expensive consoles or high-end gaming PCs. This article explores the top 9 cloud gaming services currently available and evaluates each platform based on game selection, platform support, pricing, and overall user experience.

1. Google Stadia

IHS Analyst: Google Stadia Will Need Timed Exclusives; Studio or Publisher  Acquisitions Are Highly Likely, Too

Google Stadia is one of the largest and most ambitious cloud gaming platforms. It works across PCs, Android phones and tablets, and Chromecast Ultra devices. Stadia supports 4K resolutions and 60 frames per second for select games. The service launched in late 2019 with around 30 games and has continued expanding its library, which now includes over 200 titles. Stadia offers a free Stadia Base tier for playing games at 1080p resolution that you purchase individually, as well as a Stadia Pro subscription for $9.99 per month that includes 4K streaming and free game claims. While Stadia has a excellent streaming quality and wide device support, its game selection still lags behind other services.

2. Nvidia GeForce Now

System Requirements for Cloud Gaming | NVIDIA GeForce NOW

GeForce Now is arguably the most advanced cloud gaming service thanks to Nvidia’s powerful server hardware. It supports over 1,300 PC games through links to digital storefronts like Steam, Uplay, and Epic Games. Members can stream games they already own from those stores at up to 1080p resolutions and 60 fps on PCs, Android devices, and Shield TV. The free tier has an hour-long session limit, while the $4.99 per month Founders membership removes that cap. GeForce Now excels in graphical fidelity and smooth gameplay but can be frustrating due to limited concurrent user slots during high-traffic periods. It also lacks native mobile apps, requiring Chrome or Safari browser streaming instead. Overall, GeForce Now delivers a premium experience for hardcore PC gamers.

3. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

Buy Xbox Game Pass Ultimate 3 Months Microsoft Store

Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate bundles together Xbox Game Pass for console and PC with Xbox Live Gold and access to Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta) for streaming games to Android phones and tablets. For $14.99 per month, members gain access to over 100 high-quality games that can be downloaded and played on Xbox and Windows 10 devices, as well as streamed in the cloud. While the streaming library lags behind competitors with around 100 titles, those games feature razor-sharp graphics and buttery-smooth input thanks to Microsoft’s server prowess. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate offers incredible value and a top-tier user experience, making it very appealing for both avid gamers and more casual players.

4. PlayStation Now

PlayStation Now: Everything You Need To Know - Updated March, 2024

PlayStation Now has been around since 2014 and allows PlayStation fans to stream or download over 700 PS2, PS3 and PS4 games. The service works across PS4 and Windows PCs, providing an excellent way to play classic PlayStation games or bigger exclusives without needing those older consoles. For $9.99 per month, members can stream at up to 1080p resolutions or download PS4 and PS2 titles. While PlayStation Now delivers the classics and big PlayStation games, its streaming performance can be inconsistent compared to competitors. It also lacks support for mobile devices beyond remote play on PS4. Still, PlayStation Now remains the best option for those wanting the full PlayStation experience through a subscription.

5. Amazon Luna

Amazon Luna: Price, full game list, and more (2024) - Android Authority

Amazon entered the cloud gaming arena in late 2020 with Luna. It streams games at up to 4K resolutions to PC, Mac, Fire TV, and iOS devices. Luna channels like Luna+ offer collections of games like Jackbox Party Packs for $5.99 monthly. The Luna Controller, sold separately for $49.99, enhances the experience with low-latency cloud gaming controls. Luna is still in early access, but shows promise with games like Resident Evil 7, Control, and Panzer Dragoon. If Amazon can bolster the game selection and expand platform support beyond web apps, Luna could become a viable alternative. For now, its limited channel approach and high controller price tag make it less appealing than some competitors.

6. Shadow PC

Shadow Game Streaming Offers A Powerful Cloud PC, But Is It Any Good? -  GameSpot

Shadow PC, formerly known as Shadow, differs from the earlier Shadow entry in this list by focusing specifically on cloud gaming through a full Windows 10 PC. Rather than game streaming, you get remote access to a full virtual machine in the data center. This “cloud PC” can run any game titles available on Steam, Uplay, Epic Games Store, and other platforms. It delivers high-end performance at up to 1080p resolution for $11.99-$29.99 monthly. Shadow PC is best suited for serious PC gamers wanting access to their full game libraries anywhere, but the premium pricing may not justify the value for more casual gamers. Still, it offers raw power and maximum flexibility for cloud-based PC gameplay.

7. Vortex

Vortex APK for Android Download

Vortex aims to appeal to budget-minded gamers with competitive monthly and annual plans. The service streams hundreds of PC games through a web interface or mobile apps to Android and iOS devices, offering a smooth streaming experience at prices as low as $4.99 per month or $49 for a full year. Core games include Dauntless, PUBG, Dead by Daylight, and more. Vortex also plans to launch more robust monthly subscription options. While its library size and platform support aren’t as extensive as bigger services, Vortex delivers a solid cloud gaming foundation at an affordable price. As it expands, it could become a valuable option.

8. Blacknut

Windows | Blacknut Cloud Gaming

Based in Europe, Blacknut offers a streaming game subscription service across Windows, Mac, and Android devices. For €9.99 monthly, members gain access to a catalog of over 100 PC games like Tomb Raider, Just Cause 4, and Sniper Elite 4. Blacknut promises speeds up to 60fps at 1080p resolution streamed in H.265 encoding for smooth performance. While largely unknown outside of Europe currently, Blacknut works hard to optimize its technology and deserves attention as an emerging alternative. With continued growth, it may become a service to watch in more worldwide markets.

9. Parsec

Download Parsec | Parsec

Parsec takes a different approach as more of a remote desktop tool focused on cloud PC and Mac gaming. Rather than hosting the hardware itself, Parsec lets you stream your existing personal computer or dedicated local gaming rig to any other device. This “reverse cloud gaming” works great for accessing a high-powered desktop from a low-spec laptop while traveling. A free version limits sessions to 8 hours while a $4 monthly subscription removes that cap. Though not a true game streaming service, Parsec empowers on-the-go PC gaming and offers a complementary service to other cloud options.

Conclusion

Cloud gaming continues to evolve at a rapid pace, delivering big-budget games to more devices without hardware requirements. Services like Google Stadia, Nvidia GeForce Now, and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate set the standard for game selection, performance, and value. But ambitious new competitors like Amazon Luna, Shadow, and Blacknut work hard to improve and challenge the market leaders. Overall, cloud gaming grows more accessible and impressive every year. With advancements in encoding technology and 5G networks on the horizon, the future remains tremendously promising for on-demand, high-fidelity game streaming.

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