Google announced in September 2022 that it would be shutting down its cloud gaming service, Stadia, on January 18, 2023. The news came out of nowhere, so it was a huge shock to the gaming world, especially to the platform’s active subscribers. Naturally, the announcement raised a number of questions, like which cloud gaming platform to turn to in its absence. Fortunately, there are multiple alternatives to choose from:
Xbox Cloud Gaming
Xbox One was released in 2013, and disappointingly, it fell flat in comparison to Xbox 360’s immense success. Following this, Microsoft needed an impactful comeback if it wanted to stay in the game. This happened in 2017 with the arrival of Xbox Game Pass, a subscription service that offers a vast library of games for a reasonable price. The platform lacked a cloud gaming service initially, as it only allowed players to download games to Xboxes and PCs, but it was still gaining popularity. In 2020, however, Xbox Cloud Gaming joined the fast-growing movement.
The service is available for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers. It facilitates remote playing on PCs, Xboxes, and smart devices, provided there’s a strong enough internet connection. Most of this equipment, including smart TVs, have a dedicated app, but gamers can choose to play on browsers as well. Apart from permanent first-party games, the library is always changing, with titles dropping in and out of rotation. This is among the service’s few downsides, as gamers will eventually have to buy their favorites. On the other hand, the price is appealing, and it’s possible to test the platform for one month for as low as $1. Unfortunately, Xbox Cloud Gaming can have performance issues from time to time, but using a VPN can help keep a steady connection.
While GeForce Now’s beta dates back to 2015, the full service was launched in 2020. Subscribers play on a remote server using their PCs, Macs, Android or iOS mobile devices, Shield TVs, and Chromebooks. The service has a dedicated desktop app, but it’s possible to use it via browsers as well. Having said this, not every browser is supported.
GeForce Now is accessed via games bought through digital distribution services, mostly Steam and the Epic Games Store. As such, the platform’s greatest selling point is that it relieves gamers from having to build an expensive gaming PC. Another advantage is that it’s available for free, although this only gives access to a basic setup, and gamers can’t play for longer than an hour. The paid subscriptions aren’t exactly cheap, but they’re still more affordable than regularly upgrading your rig.
PlayStation Plus Premium
Sony’s cloud streaming platform has come on a long way. As a part of PlayStation Plus, the discontinued PlayStation Now’s perks are available in a Premium subscription. These benefits include an immense library of both old and new PS exclusives, and some third-party games. Since PlayStation 4 isn’t backward compatible (and PS5 is only compatible with PS4 games), those wanting to play most older titles on newer machines can mainly do so in the cloud. In addition, a few games in the catalog can be played on PCs through browsers or the desktop app.
Sony has exclusive discounts and free offers every month for its subscribers. Unfortunately, these games remain available only while you’re a member. Furthermore, there’s a steep pricing policy for the service, with options for monthly, quarterly, and annual billing. Nevertheless, the 7-day free trial gives you the opportunity to check out all the perks offered by the well-renowned company.
Probably the closest to a Stadia successor is Amazon Luna, as it targets a broad audience. The service is available on PCs, Macs, Android and iOS devices, Fire TVs, Fire tablets, and Chromebooks.
Amazon Luna’s biggest advantage is its wide array of subscriptions, ranging from family plans to a package dedicated to old classics and free games for Amazon Prime’s subscribers. Gamers can also link their Ubisoft accounts to the service, which means they can play games they bought in the Ubisoft Store. Unfortunately, this doesn’t change the fact that Amazon Luna is more of a mixed bag than its competitors. It’s also a drawback that those residing outside of the U.S. must rely on a VPN to bypass the service’s geo-restriction, although Amazon Prime subscribers can play a selection of free games. At least, it’s significantly cheaper than the others, and subscriptions start with a 7-day free trial.
Each cloud gaming service will have its own player fanbase, depending on their preferences. For example, GeForce Now is best for those without strong hardware but with a vast library of Steam and Epic Games Store titles. Xbox Cloud Gaming offers its services mainly to those who play a lot on the go, such as on mobile devices. Sony’s platform is mostly for PS players who have ditched their old machines already or PC gamers interested in Sony’s exclusives, but don’t have a PlayStation 4 or 5. Lastly, Amazon Luna is optimal for people getting into cloud gaming for the first time. Putting it shortly, the void left after Stadia’s closure have never been easier to fill.
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