You may not need a game console or a fancy PC to play the latest video games. Google, Sony and Nvidia rely heavily on streaming video games. But how should their game streaming services work?
Here are the basics: Companies like Google or Sony install a game on a server farm somewhere and send video and audio over the internet to you. You then send back all input from your controller for real-time playback.
As you can imagine, this requires a fairly fast and reliable Internet speed and some sort of hardware to play your games. You may not need a console, but you still need a controller and a device with a screen.
The largest existing and future services have quite different approaches to this new kind of games. So what you need varies from one service to the next. The following is a breakdown of existing services such as Nvidia's GeForce Now and future platforms such as Google Stadia. Here's how to get started on the biggest services.
A limited rollout is planned for November for Google Stadia, which the company offers as a console-less game console. You can play games on almost any screen, including laptops, desktops, televisions, tablets, and phones.
For most devices, all you need is something that Google Chrome can run. In terms of hardware, this means that you can use:
- Windows PCs with Windows 7 or later
- Macs with macOS 10.10 or later
- TVs with Chromecast Ultra is connected to an open HDMI port.
- Phones: Pixel 3 and 3a are supported during the first time of early access.
If you have a computer that supports Chrome – a fairly low value bar – you may already have all the hardware you need. You can control your games with keyboard and mouse.
If you want to use a controller, Google says you can use any input device connected to your computer via USB or Bluetooth. This may include the PS4 DualShock 4 controller, the Xbox One controller, the Nintendo Switch Pro controller, and third-party options.
Since pairing with your computer via USB or Bluetooth and Submitting Submit your entry on a remote server, your response time can be extended to precious milliseconds. Google has created its own controller that connects directly to Wi-Fi. You can buy one of them for $ 69 on Google.
If you want to play on your TV, the company also sells a Founder's Edition worth $ 129, which is included is Chromecast Ultra, an exclusive blue controller, and Stadia Pro for three months (which you can play in 4K quality) for you and a friend.
As far as the Internet requirements are concerned, you must maintain a consistent ground to achieve certain stream qualities:
- At least 10 Mbps for 720p streams. This is slightly lower than Full HD, but still includes video and stereo sound at up to 60 fps. Everything underneath and your connection may be too slow for playback.
- For 1080p streams between 20 and 25 Mbps. This will give you Full HD. Paying for Stadia Pro also activates support for HDR and 5.1 surround sound.
- From 30-35 Mbps for 4K streams. This is supposedly the minimum Internet speed you need for full 4K, including HDR and surround sound. You must have a subscription to Stadia Pro.
Take a moment to measure your Internet speed if you do not know how fast your Internet is currently. If you're sharing your home Internet connection or using Wi-Fi, which can be a bottleneck, the home Internet speed you're paying for may need to be higher. For more information, see The Best Gaming ISPs of 2019.
Stadia Pro will be live in November, but those interested in the free tier will have to wait until 2020.
GeForce Now  Nvidia's GeForce Now is currently on the market but is still in technical development and has been on the market for some time. To access the service, you first need to request access to the beta version . Once you receive the invitation, you can stream games for free on your computer.
The beta version of GeForce Now supports both Windows and Mac laptops and desktops. Although it does not work with handheld devices, most computers should be fine:  Windows PCs with a 64-bit version of Windows 7 or higher.
For more specific hardware requirements Nvidia has tested a number of different computer models. Check the website to see if your PC is compatible.
You can use just about any keyboard and mouse combination or USB or Bluetooth controller to play your games. If you happen to own an Nvidia Shield TV, you can also play it on your TV with the proprietary Nvidia controllers.
In terms of Internet speed, GeForce Now needs about what Stadia needs, though Nvidia says it should be. Hardwired over Ethernet connection:
- At least 15 Mbps for 720p streams. This is what Nvidia says, you will get at least 60fps. Everything under it is probably hard to play.
- At least 25 Mbps for 1080p streams. If you can keep this level, Nvidia promises you 60 fps in full HD quality.
- 4K video? GeForce Now does not currently support 4K video.
The service has been in beta since 2013. Therefore, it is not clear when the company wants to introduce the full service and at what price it will then be offered. If you qualify for the beta, the service is initially free.
Sony's PlayStation Now is the only service listed here that is currently open to the public. There is no beta or early access, and you can sign up now.
This is also one of the more limited services. You need a PlayStation 4 or a Windows PC. There is no support for phones, tablets, Macs or TVs (unless they're connected to your Sony console).
The service costs $ 20 per month or $ 99 for the entire year and includes access to a library of more than 800 games from the PS2, PS3 and PS4. While you do not have to buy individual games to use the service, you will not get the latest and hottest games like Stadia or GeForce Now.
Some of these games can also be downloaded to your PS4, making them a hybrid service similar to Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass . Even if you are not interested in game streaming, you may still want to subscribe to the subscription to get access to all the titles included.
You also need a PlayStation Network account and an Internet connection of at least 5-12 Mbps according to Sony. The faster your internet connection, the better your game quality. The official range proposed by Sony does not leave much room for anyone on the Internet at home, so it's better to consider it as the minimum speed you need than the one your home needs.
For controllers, you can use the PS4 controller that you already have when you use the console service. This controller can also be connected to your PC. While some third-party Bluetooth and USB controllers are compatible with the service, Sony does not guarantee that these options will work .
Of all popular cloud game streams Out there, we know the least about xCloud. Microsoft announced at E3 2019 in June that it will begin public testing in October. Finally, PCs as well as Android and iOS phones are supported. However, we do not know what it will cost, which games will be supported or when it will be available to the public.
A key feature that we use It is well known that you can use your existing Xbox as a server to stream games. Hypothetically, this means that you can run a game on your Xbox and stream it to your phone or laptop via Wi-Fi.
This could reduce the delay that occurs when connecting to a remote server, and may lower the minimum Internet speed requirements. However, if you do not have an Xbox, you can still connect to Microsoft servers.