The ultimate internet guide to Cloud Gaming and streaming PC games
This is a thorough description and guide of how to play any PC game on any PC and potentially save money at the same time by utilizing a cloud gaming PC.
- How to play a game despite PC not meeting the minimum system requirements.
- How to play a game at optimal settings/increase visual graphics/increase Frames Per Second.
- How to overcome operation system incompatibility. Run games on Mac, Linux etc.
- Lacking economy- or reluctance to invest in new hardware.
Gamers are in a constant 'hardware race' against ever increasing system requirements from new games and have to upgrade their PC more often than ever before.
Cloud gaming has emerged as an attempt to counter this development. By utilizing streaming over the internet, cloud gaming gives a way to play the newest AAA games on ultra settings on outdated PC's - without buying a new gaming PC.
The technical term cloud gaming is also closely related to game streaming and playing computer games over the air, all referring to the concept of being able to play video games which are being run on a remote gaming computer.
*The guide will be kept updated to keep track of new development in the game streaming technologies, as well as when new ideas are introduced to the concept of cloud gaming.
Table of contents
- Cloud Gaming Resume
- Introduction and purpose
- Why did we write this document?
- Structure of the guide
- Which gamers are this guide for?
- Chapter 1: What is cloud gaming and how does it work
- A PC located in the Cloud
- A 'The Sims' analogy
- Local access and control, external storage and processing
- An interactive stream
- Summing up how cloud gaming works
- Chapter 2: The advantages of cloud gaming and why it is relevant for gamers
- Notes on the referenced data
- The PC is the most used gaming device
- Run any game on any PC
- Why PC games have system requirements and quickly become outdated
- Never worry about outdated hardware
- Run the game on your desired settings
- Why PC games have settings
- Gamers' increasing emphasis on high quality graphics
- Not only visual games suffer
- Always play games as they were meant to be played
- Play any game on any operating system
- Rent hardware instead of buying it
- Hardware is a substantial expense for gamers
- Cloud gaming services are flexible in terms of price and quality
- The cloud PC keeps files external and is accessible from any computer
- You cannot spill coffee on a cloud PC
- Play on smartphones and tablets
- Summing up the advantages of cloud gaming
- Chapter 3: Requirements for cloud gaming
- The issue of latency, ping and lag
- Solid, stable internet connection
- Proximity to a data center
- Some games are more suited than others
- The game might not be optimized for cloud gaming
- Type of game
- App/Client/Browser extension
- Digital ownership of a game
- Summing up the requirements of cloud gaming
- Concluding remarks
- It all depends on what kind of gamer you are
- Try it before you buy it
The PC is still the most used gaming device around the world, and over the last decades, system requirements for PC games have increased exponentially concurrently with the increasing capabilities of the PC. This has impact on both consumer economy and entertainment value.
Consumer software/game requirements follow the development of new hardware, and the exponentially increasing capabilities of hardware among developers has the consumer caught in a game of 'catch' they cannot win. Better hardware at a rapid pace for the gaming industry means more demanding software for consumers at a more rapid pace, which in term means more frequent hardware expenses for the consumer. Consumers now has to upgrade their hardware in shorter and shorter intervals if they want to run a game optimally or even be able to run it at all.
Just as music and video has moved into the cloud, the PC is next. This guide argues that cloud gaming offers a viable solution to many consumers and a lot of other well known problems to PC gamers. By utilizing the internet, people can rent a powerful PC located in the cloud to run games and can thus bypass a lot of well known hurdles with local PC's.
Cloud gaming can bypass major problems such as:
- A local PC not meeting a game's system requirements. Play any game on any computer.
- A local PC not running a game to satisfaction. Play a game on any quality settings.
- Operation system incompatibility. Such as a Mac or Linux not being able to run certain games.
- Lacking personal economy- or reluctant to invest in new, required hardware. Rent instead of buy.
What cloud gaming does, in short, is make it possible to play any computer game, on any quality settings, on any computer.
Cloud gaming works by using a computer located in the 'cloud' to run the games instead of the local PC. The gamer retains control and commands on the local PC, but the online PC does all the work. By using the internet to make an interactive stream, the local PC merely shows a stream of what the cloud PC is doing, thus the local PC's capabilities becomes obsolete and the gamer can overcome the above described problems. All it requires is a solid, stable internet connection.
This guide was born out a passion for gaming. We feel that gaming should be possible and available for everyone. We feel that noone should be unwillingly playing last generation games Everyone should be able to play the newest games or any other game they want. Noone should be limited in their gaming because of old hardware or operating system.
With this passion in mind we decided to write this guide because we therefore wanted to share the phenomenon known as cloud gaming. Cloud gaming offers solutions to problems that PC gamers are all too familiar with, but it is hardly known in comparison to how much it could help many gamers overcome these problems. This guide seeks to make up for that.
This guide focuses on how cloud gaming can make gaming possible, more enjoyable, less worrysome and even cheaper for PC gamers around the world. What cloud gaming does, in short, is make it possible to play any computer game, on any quality settings, on any computer. The newest games can be played on the oldest PC's.
This guide follows a structure of three chapters:
- In chapter 1, we explain what cloud gaming is and how it works (without being too techy).
- In chapter 2, we look the advantages of cloud by considering the current problems for gamers as we consider them in relation to contemporary statistics on gamers.
- In chapter 3, we elaborate on the requirements for cloud gaming and lastly conclude on the pros and cons of cloud gaming.
Most PC gamers can probably relate to these worrysome thoughts: “I hope this new game's system requirements do not exceed my PC's hardware”, or “I wish I could play this game at higher graphics or with higher FPS”, or “Oh no, another new game incompatible with my operating system”, or even “I wish I had money for a brand new PC”. These are just some of the worries that Cloud gaming can put an end to.
However, while this guide highly relevant for anyone who can relate to the above mentioned problems, it also offers insight into the gaming industry and the gamer as a consumer. So, If you have any kind of performance problems with gaming on your local PC or lack the money to invest in new hardware, look for information on gamers as a demographic- and consumer group or are interested in the gaming industry in general, then this guide will equip you with relevant knowledge.
In order to understand the relevance of cloud gaming, it is important to understand how these factors play together.
Thus, after reading this guide you will not only have a viable alternative to constantly upgrading hardware, you will also understand more about gamers' market preferences but also, judging by the increasing number of cloud gaming providers, a future aspect of the gaming industry.
In this chapter we will focus on how cloud game works. In order to make this understandable to the average reader, we will refrain from becoming too techy and instead rely on analogies and comparisons.
As probably even the reader with only very limited knowledge about gaming has already figured out, cloud gaming comes from a mixture between 'the cloud' and gaming.
'Cloud', as is commonly used, refers to something located online. Most people have a 'Dropbox', 'Google Drive' or online backup of files on phones, which are perfect examples of cloud storage.
However, in the case of cloud gaming, it is not only storage i.e. a harddisk located in the cloud, it is an entire PC located in the cloud. This PC has a processor, graphics card, RAM, harddisk etc. as any other computer you would use for gaming (though often with much more powerful hardware). And just as you can open your dropbox from any local PC, the cloud computer can be accessed via the internet and controlled by any local PC.
So while a cloud PC might sound, and theoretically is, more advanced, the technology behind it is basically something most people are familiar with and utilize on a daily basis.
So, since we have now covered how the technology behind cloud gaming is actually quite familiar to the average PC user, the following section will explain how the practical uses are not that different either.
If you are are still a bit confused about how cloud gaming works after reading the chapter's first two sections, perhaps one way of explaining Cloud gaming is relating it to the PC game, 'The Sims'.
We assume almost everyone reading this knows ‘The Sims’. If you - suprisingly - do not, then the game essentially gives you control of a virtual person, a 'sim', in a real life setting.
In The Sims can tell your sim to do things you would not be able to overcome or be capable of yourself. Make him go to work at 3am because you need money to build a pool, and when he comes home after his 10 hour shift make him clean everything because you like a tidy house, followed by a 4 hour workout because you want to stay fit. And, when nighttime comes, if you feel like it, take him running naked into town and try to kiss a stranger.
The decision/control >< work/consequence aspect is what makes The Sims enjoyable to so many people (the most sold PC game in 2014 and 2015 and top 10 all time most sold PC game). People can get a sim to do all the things they can’t manage themselves. It can be fun to decide if you don’t feel all the hard work being done.
This is essentially what cloud gaming does for your local PC. Cloud gaming retains decision and control locally, but moves the hard work onto a cloud PC. The powerful cloud PC runs the game for you, which is why the local PC's hardware does not matter.
Your local PC is the decision maker, but it doesn't feel all the hard work being done because it is performed by the cloud PC. While you should not expect your cloud PC to go running naked into town, you could say that your local PC gets its own sim in form of the cloud PC.
So why would you want an cloud PC? For many of the same reasons as having a Dropbox.
There is one basic function underlying Dropbox, Google Drive or any other online storage: external storage. While many users might use it for sharing and easy access to files, the basic practical use of online storage is moving files away from a local PC onto an external harddisk in order to free up space, i.e. relieving your local PC. With online storage you can access files that would be too big for your local PC.
While a cloud PC is, once again, a bit more advanced than just online storage, it is also, once again, the same basic, underlying function: relieving your local PC. However, with a cloud PC you not only relieve your local PC of storage. When you access a cloud PC, you relieve your local PC of processing, rendering, storage and everything else related to running a PC game, because you move it to a much more powerful computer.
However, just as with Dropbox etc. you still retain access and control from all local PC's. And just as with Dropbox, the cloud PC will be able to do things that would be too big for your local PC. Like, for example, running computer games that your local PC would not be able to run.
The advantage for gamers thus begins to manifest itself. You can overcome the limitations of your own PC by utilizing a cloud PC i.e. running hardware that would be too demanding for your own PC.
By now we have covered how the hard work is being moved from your local PC onto a cloud PC, but how does this work visually? One thing is the cloud PC doing the work, another thing is how the local control actually works in practice. Literally, how you see it and control it.
Basically, you see another PC's screen on your monitor. And when you move the mouse, what you see on your monitor is the mouse move on the other PC's desktop. So when you boot a game up a game on a cloud PC and start driving/jumping/shooting, what you see on your monitor is what the cloud PC does.
It looks as if it was your own PC and everything was normal, and the only difference is that it is not your local PC's screen that is on your monitor, it is the cloud PC's.
Because this is done via the internet, you could call it an 'interactive stream'.
In the case of a regular streaming service (like Netflix), the stream goes “one way”. Your local PC streams an image sent to your PC by an external server.
However, in the case of cloud gaming, you also send input to the external server. When you press commands on your keyboard or move the mouse, you send input to the cloud server. When streaming Netflix, there is no input from your local PC.
Thus, when cloud gaming, the signal goes “both ways”. The input from your local PC is sent to the cloud PC, which then projects back an image of what your ordered it to do.
What basically happens is that you watch whatever you order the Cloud PC to do on your monitor, but the computer in the cloud runs the game for you instead, taking the local PC's hardware out of the equation. The stream becomes interactive, because you control what is streamed back to you. You decide whatever you want to stream, so it's like having the game installed on your own computer. You are playing a game as usual, you are just streaming another PC doing it while retaining control on your local PC.
An old PC is able to stream Netflix in full HD just as well as a brand new one. It all comes down to internet connection. This is because it uses the internet to merely project a picture that it would not have the capability to render itself. The same goes for cloud gaming's interactive stream.
By reading chapter 1, you should have a decent understanding of how cloud gaming works:
- A cloud PC is an online PC with top of the line hardware that can be accessed from any local PC via the internet.
- By accessing the cloud PC, you can utilize the powerful hardware provided by cloud gaming services to move processing, rendering, storage and everything else related to running a PC game away from your local PC, hence you can run software too demanding for your local PC.
- This visually works as an interactive stream. When you connect to a cloud PC your monitor shows a stream of the cloud PC's screen, but you still control what the cloud PC does, thus the stream becomes interactive.
- Thus, when using cloud gaming, when you are playing a game, you are merely watching another computer playing the game, but you still control the game via your local PC.
Throughout this chapter we will more thoroughly discuss how cloud gaming overcomes hurdles set up by a local PC and how this is relevant for many of gamers.
Each section will discuss the relevance of cloud gaming in by comparing some overall tendencies in the video game industry to a comprehensive, esteemed survey on gaming in American households made by the Entertainment Software Association:
- Source: 2014 data: http://www.theesa.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/ESA-Essential-Facts-2015.pdf
- Source: 2015 data: http://essentialfacts.theesa.com/Essential-Facts-2016.pdf
- Source: 2016 data: http://www.theesa.com/wp-content/themes/esa/assets/EF2017_Design_FinalDigital.pdf
The survey is among USA households only, but while each country is its own, we surmise that this data can clearly show a trend and is comparative to gamers in many other countries around the world. We have included results from 2014, 2015 and 2016 for a broad representation of the most contemporary data.
The reason why data is sometimes taken from reports from different years is because different questions were asked each year, so each report do not consist of the same questions and data.
Also, in the survey, owners of several gaming devices have been examined, so the statistics include consoles, handheld devices etc. Hence, there is, unfortunately, no seperate data exclusively for PC users. There is, however, no reason to believe that PC users should spend less money on hardware than other device owners. In fact, the opposite seems much more likely, as will be elaborated upon in this chapter.
In 2016, 97% of the surveyed American households owned a PC.
Out of all these PC owners, 56% of the most frequent gamers reported that they used a PC for gaming, exceeding every other possible device in terms of gaming usage. Thus, PC gamers make up the majority of gamers.
Cloud gaming therefore proves its immediate relevance by concerning the majority of gamers in its attempt to make gaming possible, more optimal or expense reducing by giving an alternative to upgrading hardware.
As explained in the previous chapter, cloud gaming allows even an old PC to run a new game.
The reason this is relevant is due to the pace at which PC's become outdated and need hardware upgrades in order to live up to new software's system requirements. So let's zoom in on system requirements.
The fact that a PC user has to concern himself with software system requirements is a major difference between PC owners and console owners. Console owners are stuck with what they got until a new generation of consoles comes out, but PC owners, on the other hand, have the opportunity to upgrade their hardware much more frequently.
The PC gaming industry knows this, which allows them to make more hardware demanding games every year. They do not have to fit their system requirements to fixed set of hardware like on a console, so instead they expect gamers to upgrade hardware to meet their demands.
The development of new software thus follows the capabilities of the game developers' new hardware, because they constantly want to exceed each other when making new games. Hence, the consumer has to keep up with the rapidly increasing hardware capabilities of game developers.
Better hardware for the gaming industry means more demanding software for consumers, which in term means the consumer has to upgrade his or her hardware every few years in order to even run new games.
By renting a cloud PC, gamers no longer have to invest in new hardware when their local PC no longer meets new software's minimum system requirements. Cloud gaming providers upgrade their cloud PC's concurrently with new software demands, which gives gamers a sense of security, because they know they will always be able to run any new game.
As described in the last section, cloud gaming proves advantegous for people whose local PC's no longer live up to new softwares minimum system requirements. But we should also consider that, for many, simply running a game is not enough.
PC games have low- and high quality settings which affects the gaming experience, and this section will discuss system requirements versus game settings more thoroughly.
As described in the last section, the PC differ from consoles because PC software has system requirements.
A console game's settings are locked because it comes with predefined hardware. However, the PC industry knows that not every PC user has completely up to date hardware, so they accomendate by making it possible to adjust a game's settings to low- and high quality settings. This usually affects the game's visual quality which in turn helps optimize 'frames per second' and loading times. In other words, you usually sacrifice visual quality for smoother gameplay.
So, on a PC, running a game does not necessarily mean running it optimally. There are minimum and recommended system requirements, and each make for different experiences with a game. Some games with graphically stunning worlds, like Skyrim, The Witcher and Fallout 4, lose the visual beauty on lower settings and this ruins immersion for some.
From 2014 to 2015, 'quality of graphics' increased from 7% to 12% as the deciding factor when gamers buy a new game. In 2016, 67% said it was a main factor, which made it the most emphasized factor when purchasing a game.
From this we can deduce that gamers are increasingly laying emphasis on games with high quality visual graphics and in turn that they want to play the game on high visual settings.
Gamers' emphasis on high quality graphics magnify the tendency that gamers have to get new hardware ever so often. If gamers want more demanding software more often, they are going to need new hardware more often.
Of course, only meeting the minimum system requirements not only influences visual settings, but also loading times. This is an annoyance in many games, but especially in popular “turn based” games such as Civilization 6 and Football Manager, where the PC has to process data with every click and “turn”. The lowered graphics on low settings might not be a big issue for some in these types of games, but the prolonged loading times between turns are of much bigger nuisance.
And as previously described, cloud gaming providers upgrade their cloud PC's concurrently with new software demands, and thus gamers can let go of the worry whether they can run a new game on their desired settings.
By guarenteeing always up-to-date hardware, cloud gaming not only proves itself valuable to gamers not meeting software minimum requirements, but also for gamers who wish they could improve performance on some games.
Once again, cloud gaming gives the gamer a sense of security by allowing him to always play new games on the highest settings.
Another hardware issue that is of concern to some gamers is that games are not always released compatible with all operating systems.
Many Linux and Mac owners know the frustration that a game is relased incompatible with their operating system.
Once again, cloud gaming offer a solution to many PC owners. Cloud gaming providers give access to a cloud PC that runs Windows, and their clients often runs on many/all operating systems.
Thus, non-windows users need not be limited by their choice of operating system.
By now we have asserted that cloud gaming can help gamers overcome hardware restrictions on their local PC.
Cloud gaming providers allows gamers to rent an up-to-date PC as an alternative to buying new hardware themselves. So lets take a closer look on how much gamers actually spend on buying new hardware.
If we look at the total expenses for gamers in both 2014, 2015 and 2016, gamers used 56.4 billion dollars on content/software and 13.68 billion dollars on hardware. Combining these numbers, hardware takes up approximately 20% of a gamer's expenses.
One of the main reasons why hardware makes up such a big percentage of gaming expenses lies in the previous description of the PC industry. PC gamers have to keep their personal hardware up-to-date with the rapidly improving hardware among developers, and this is obviously expensive.
So if we further take into account that the PC has to be upgraded more frequently than other gaming devices, the percentage is much likely even higher for PC users than, for example, console owners.
Nonetheless, even the overall 20 percentage is very substantial and perhaps more clear when put as a practical, average example: For every 4 games a gamer buys, he or she has to invest in new hardware.
Obviously this doesn't always mean that all gamers buys new hardware every four games. It can be the case if a gamer is merely upgrading parts of his computer such as a new graphics card, but often hardware is an expensive, long term, investment in a new PC. And even though a gamer might buy 12 games over the course of his computers lifetime, when you break it down to the average 4 games vs. 1 hardware upgrade ratio, it shows how substantial an expense hardware is for gamers.
Also, gamers are not a homogenous group, and some might get more bang for their buck because they play more games over the course of their PC's lifetime. The more games a gamer buys before investing in new hardware obviously makes hardware take up a smaller piece of the pie. But not everyone has the time to play through several games over the course of their PC's lifetime. So while one gamer might buy 20 games over his hardware's lifetime, another might only purchase 2.
This makes cloud gaming more suited for some people than others. The less games you buy a year, the bigger a percentual expense hardware becomes.
As an alternative to massive hardware investments, cloud gaming providers allow a gamer to rent a PC on a hourly or monthly basis instead.
Even though cloud gaming providers provide top shelf hardware, there a degree of flexibility in terms of a users visual quality.
Cloud gaming providers usually offer a range of plans at different pricings relative to their own expenses for that particular plan.
Most often, the difference in the plans come down to streaming resolution or hardware specification on the cloud PC (which are expenses for the cloud gaming providers), which both influence visual quality for the user either through stream quality or hardware capacity. Other plan factors can include a monthly limit on hours.
This also allows a user some flexibility to match his personal needs to price. For instance, if a user has a small monitor, he won't need as high streaming resolution as others, or if he plays games with relatively low system requirements, he won't need top shelf hardware.
Since a cloud PC is located online, a gamer isn't dependant on the physical presence of a specific local PC to play games. You can boot up any game on any computer with a cloud gaming client installed, not just your own PC.
The external location of the Cloud PC also proves valuable to PC users who like to keep their gaming PC and work PC seperate, since PC's are slowed down by the amount software installed, and games take up a lot of space.
With cloud gaming, gamers do not have to install games locally, which means you can easily use any computer for gaming, not just in terms of hardware specifications, but also to keep a local PC with minimal software installed.
There is also a security in the fact that you cannot accidentally destroy your expensive PC.
For example, many parents are reluctant to buy expensive hardware for their kids because they are afraid they will ruin it.
While accidents are never a bliss, the pain of spilling coffee on- or dropping an expensive PC to the ground is much more painful than ruining an old laptop.
Cloud gaming is not just limited to sorting out system incompatibilities. Some cloud gaming providers also offer the opportunity to play games on other devices than a PC.
As long as the client runs on the given device you are able to use cloud gaming just as you are able to stream Netflix.
Of course, you would obviously need additional accessories to enjoy a lot of games if you decide to play on a smartphone or the like.
Throughout chapter 2, we have explained how cloud gaming offers several solution for common problems facing PC gamers:
- Statistically, the PC is the most used gaming device among gamers.
- PC hardware quickly becomes outdated because PC users have to keep up with the constant improvement of hardware among game developers.
- Statistically, gamers put the most emphasis on quality of graphics when purhasing a new game. This in turn means that they also need to upgrade hardware even more frequently if they want to play games on high graphical settings.
- With cloud gaming, gamers no longer have to worry about being able to run a new game or lowering settings, since providers keep their hardware up to date.
- Gamers can use cloud gaming to play a game on maxed out game settings or reduce loading times in process heavy games.
- Cloud gaming can be used on any operating system, thus making it possible to play games that would normally be incompatible with a specific operating system.
- Gamers averagely use 20% of their gaming expenses on hardware. Instead of making massive investments in hardware, gamers can rent on an hourly/monthly basis instead.
- Cloud gaming providers offer different priced plans that commonly vary in streaming quality, cloud PC hardware or a limit on gaming hours.
- Cloud gaming allows users to prevent games from cluttering up their PC by storing them externally.
- Cloud gaming is accessible from any computer, not just a users local PC.
So far we have only focused on the advantages of cloud gaming, but this does not mean that cloud gaming is perfect. Cloud gaming has certain requirements in order to be a viable alternative to PC gamers, and throughout this chapter we will look closer at these requirements.
A common and justified worry about cloud gaming is the the fact is that it will always have a certain degree of latency, because the interactive stream has to send the signals back and forth over the internet. There are a variety of factors which influence the input delay when streaming video games over the air through a cloud gaming computer, the most prominent of them outlined in this section.
Cloud gaming differentiates itself from standard media streaming, such as audio streaming of streaming of video, by being a two-way communication, making the event a so-called interactive stream which requires both input and output from the server as well as the client, which is different from traditional streaming which only requires the server to stream media to the client without expecting any input from the client. In the case of streaming a game, the issue arises since the user wants to control what is happening in the game, rather than just sit back and watch a film/movie being played. This means that the client needs to send keyboard and mouse input to the server, for the cloud gaming server to process and handle, in order to reflect that input into the game and then return the result (as a video) to the client's computer and monitor.
Normally a streaming signal only has to travel one way, but in this case two streaming signals are being sent, resulting in twice the travel time and thus making the distance from client to server that much more significant, meaning the delay may be twice as large as it is with traditional streaming. Typically, depending on the distance, delays (and lag/ping) for cloud gaming services in the same continent may range from 10ms to 40ms when the server and client are both in the same region or continent, and becomes unplayable if the distance between host and user goes above about 3,000 kilometers. This is just an estimate, as there are many others factors involved regarding the way the streaming software is built, as well as the client's internet connection, router settings and the networking infrastructure of the game streaming host.
Since cloud gaming works by utilizing the internet, the most essential prerequisite for cloud gaming is a solid, stable internet connection.
The required internet speed depends on the quality you want to play on. As mentioned last chapter, most cloud gaming providers offer various plans that usually differ in terms of the visual quality. For instance, a HD resolution stream obviously doesn't require as fast an internet connection as a full HD stream.
So for the required internet speed, this varies from provider to provider and the plans available, but as a rule of thumb a minimum download speed of about 15 Mbps is required for a smooth gaming experience streaming the video content in standard HQ quality. To achieve a Full HD video stream, it is highly recommended that your internet connection surpasses 25 megabit per second.
The connection not only needs to be fast enough to stream the desired quality, it also has to be stable. When watching a Youtube video you won't notice if your internet lags out for a few seconds since the video preloads. But since cloud gaming is an interactive stream, preloading is obviously not possible. A lag/spike in connection will thus make a game lag.
As with all matters of wireless internet connection, your distance to a server will influence your latency.
Distance adds to streaming delay because a signal cannot violate the laws of physics, and thus cannot travel faster than the speed of light. This means that the further away your local PC is from the remote server, the longer it takes for the data to be transferred between the game server and the streaming client.
If a cloud service provider does not have a data center located in your region, you might experience more latency that you can tolerate for optimal gaming.
Always pay attention to whether a cloud gaming provider has a data center close enough to your location.
As mentioned at the start of the chapter, there will always be a degree of latency in cloud gaming, but the question is whether it it noticeable. Whether it is noticeable comes down to, first of all, internet connection, but also the game that is played. A spike in latency or just barely noticable mouse delay can affect some gaming experiences more than others. Two primary factors make cloud gaming less suitable for some games, as will be described in the two following sections.
Another fact cloud gaming cannot take account for is whether a game is optimized for cloud gaming or not. Some older games, despite being less hardware demanding, might run worse than brand new ones. This is because the games were made to be compatible with older operating systems and hardware, and despite in their best interests, were unable to predict the development of systems such as Windows, which have then let to those games having a worsened performance on newer systems.
While the above point definitely is the most defining factor, another factor is whether the type of game played makes latency easier to perceive.
Competitive first person shooters such as Counter Strike might pose more of a problem if you have problems with your connection than other genres. For instance, in a game of turned base strategy like Civilization 6, a lag spike is of minor concern and might not even be noticed.
However, for many fast paced game, latency is not reported as noticable or problematic. And should players experience delay on, for example, mouse movement due to latency, this can often be optimized within the games native settings.
Also no fast paced first person shooter- or Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games even made it into the top 20 most sold computer games in neither 2015 or 2016. So even if this a potential hurdle, it is not, from a statistical perspective, a problem for the majority of gamers.
In order to utilize cloud gaming, cloud gaming providers needs users to download some kind of client, browser extension or application to connect to the cloud PC.
The specific requirement varies from provider to provider. And the user should be aware whether the specific providers client run on all operating systems or only on specific ones.
Most cloud gaming providers require that you own the game yourself. In rare cases cloud gaming providers gives game licenses.
The ownership obviously has to be digital since you cannot insert a physical CD into a cloud PC. This should never pose as a problem, since at this time and age the vast majority of games are bought through 'Steam' or other online vendors and downloaded online.
In chapter 3, we have gone over the challenges and requirements of cloud gaming:
- Cloud gaming will always be challenged by input delay/the time it takes for the server to register the commands from the local PC.
- To minimize this delay and experience an optimal cloud gaming experience there are some essential requirements.
- A solid, stable internet connection is needed for a lagfree cloud gaming experience. The required speed varies depending on the quality of the stream.
- Since a signal has to travel over a distance, proximity to a data center is also a factor.
- Some games are more optimized than others for cloud gaming. A new, hardware demanding game might run more smoothly than an old, low requirement one.
- The type of game matters. In FPS shooters input lag is more easily noticed than in, for example, turn-based stategy games.
- Cloud gaming providers need users to download some kind of client, extension or application in order to connect to the cloud PC.
- Most cloud gaming providers requires you to own the game digitally.
Throughout this guide we have gone through how cloud gaming works, its advantages and its requirements.
As described in chapter 1, cloud gaming works by utilizing an online 'interactive stream'. Keyboard and mouse inputs from a local PC are sent to a cloud PC, which then sends back an image of it doing said action. This makes it feel as if you were playing the game on your own PC.
In chapter 2, we went through many of the advantages cloud gaming offers.
The overall arguments lies in the fact that cloud gaming can help you play the games your local PC cannot run. This is in both cases where your hardware is simply outdated an in situations where your operational system is incompatible (such as Linux or Mac with many games).
It also helps you run games at the settings you want and never worry about outdated hardware. Because cloud gaming providers offer top of the line hardware and upgrade it concurrently with new releases, you will be able to run the game at the highest settings and never worry about your hardware getting old.
By giving you a viable alternative to upgrading hardware, cloud gaming also helps you if you don't have the money- or want to upgrade to a new PC. Cloud gaming allows you to rent top of the line hardware instead of buying it.
These are problems every gamer has faced at some point, and since cloud gaming can help these barriers, cloud gaming should be a thought of mind in every gamer every time they face these problems.
As we went over in chapter 3, all it basically takes to utilize cloud gaming is a stable internet connection and proximity to a cloud gaming provider's data center.
Cloud gaming is obviously not as attractive for every gamer out there.
If you're a hardcore, competitive gamer who prefers fast faced FPS games, cloud gaming is per se not for you. Odds are you would notice even the slightest input delay and likely have an own up-to-date PC anyway.
However, if you're a gamer who buys the more casual, but big release, games that appear every few years such as The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, The Witcher 3, Civilization 6, The Sims, Grand Theft Auto 5 or Fallout 4, then cloud gaming is perfectly suited to you.
The less games you buy a year, the more attractive cloud gaming becomes. As statistics showed, an average PC gamer buys 4 games for each time he upgrades hardware, but if you potentially only buy a big release ever so often, the expenses of new hardware skyrocket. Nobody wants to buy a brand new PC only to play a couple of games on it over a number of years. Instead, it makes more sense to rent a cloud PC.
You can potentially even buy a single game and rent the cloud PC for the duration it takes you to complete the game.
If you made it this far, we're guessing cloud gaming piqued your interest.
While this guide has hopefully given you a better understanding of- and interest in trying cloud gaming, it's always better to try before you buy.
A lot of cloud gaming providers offer free trials that allows you to test out whether cloud gaming gives you an optimal experience and can hopefully make gaming possible, more fun and more available for you.0