Cloud Gaming, Gaming as a Service: Getting the Netflix of video games

Google just launched its first beta test of its Project Stream, Microsoft announced its Project xCloud, EA its project Atlas… and several other gaming actors such as Nvidia, Playstation have already launched (beta and hardlaunch) their service.

Hardcore gamers won’t change but lots of gamers are willing to pay for a service that give them access to games, without any hardware hassle.

Companies like Blade and its Shadow already made their way to demanding PC gamers, even though it requires a good internet connection.

I lost you there? Don’t worry and relax!

Cloud Gaming/ Game Streaming/ Gaming as a Service…

All of this pretty much means the same for you? Under all those names is actually what people call the “Netflix of video games”, a service, that will allow players to play (via streaming) any game on any device, without needing a powerful machine.

Some services offer all in one packages : subscribe and you can launch games directly without the need of owning them. (I will call it Gaming as a Service, or GaaS : Playstation Now, Google Project Stream, Blacknut…) You only need a device such as a tablet, TV or smartphone to receive video and audio.

And… A good internet connection & time to play!

Here is a quick scheme that I did to understand the different types of cloud gaming services.

Let me remind you the way people play on PC or console

You still have the traditional way of downloading games, paying a subscription to the Humble Bundle or PS+ to get games every month or simply paying once through Steam, Uplay, GoG or any third party seller. (Gamesplanet, Razer Game Store, G2A…)

You need hardware, e.g Playstation 4 / Xbox One or a powerful PC. At least to play AAA games!

But some people don’t, or don’t want the hassle of updating their PC/console every 1/2 years.

Here’s where cloud gaming wants to make its way.

Gaming as a Service

Playstation Now and its list of PS2/PS3/PS4 titles

Gaming as a Service is what you need if you don’t have any console or powerful PC and just want to play games on an old PC or tablet, the easy way. Here are some services already running.

Playstation Now
Win / PS2, PS3, PS4 titles, 650+ games/ 19,99$/m

NVIDIA GeForce NOW (Shield)
Shield / 100+ games / 7,99$/m + on demand

Android TV, Amazon stick (Smartphone & Tablets soon)/ 200+ games / £12.99/m

GLOUD/Emago (Argentina/Malaysia)
Basically the same as Blacknut

Hatch (Mobile games)
Android / 100+ mobile games / Free (ads)

Nintendo Switch : yes, Japanese gamers can play Assassin’s Creed Odyssey over the cloud

Cloud/Virtualised PC

Steam running on a Razer Phone via Cloud Gaming PC service Shadow (Courtesy of CNET)

Cloud or Virtualised PCs are for the most demanding players : you have a full PC with Windows (or hybrid, see next) in the cloud, ready to install and launch any demanding games. But you still have to buy/hold the games you want to play. 
Renting a PC existed before (AWS, Paperspace…), but current technologies such as internet connection, mainstream hardware available in households are pathing the way for cloud gaming applications.

Win, macOS, Android, iOS soon / €29,95/m

Win, macOS / €24,90/m

Win, Android / 29.99$/m

Partner with AWS, Paperspace (refer to the provider’s prices!)

Where is NVIDIA GeForce Now?
Hybrid: You still have a full PC but pre-configured with a list of games you need to own (you will need to log in Steam, Uplay…)

Win, macOS / List of most AAA games but no old games / Beta

Win, Chrome, Android Android TV / List of games but limited/ US$9.99/m

Wow, you read it all, thanks!
Here’s my take on recent announcements in cloud gaming/gaming as a service! I tried to explain how it works with my own understanding. Please do not hesitate to suggest anything, I might not know all available tech and services yet!