Google Stadia, Microsoft’s project xCloud, and Apple Arcade – some very big names have recently made news in the emerging arena of video game streaming, where gamers are offered a subscription-based platform to play without buying the actual game.
Every major tech company, from Apple to Amazon to Google, is trying to create a ‘Netflix of gaming’ service. The idea is simple: stream high-quality games to any device, regardless of how much processing power that device has. Thus far, Sony is the only company that has actually launched a service.
But at this point, nothing is going to stop the cloud-gaming train. As it comes screeching into the station in 2019, here’s where some of the most important major companies stand.
Verizon is currently quietly testing a game-streaming service called Verizon Gaming, as first reported by The Verge earlier in January. The alpha version includes 135 games, including AAA hits like Destiny 2, Red Dead Redemption 2, Fortnite and God of War. Participants are reportedly promised a $150 Amazon gift card, alongside receiving a Shield and Xbox One controller.
The new service from Amazon will reportedly allow players to stream games rather than having to buy and download individual titles. The company is said to be discussing potential games for the new service with game publishers, but it sounds like plans are still early; the streaming service isn’t expected to arrive until 2020 “at the earliest”.
Speaking of Google, the company recently held a beta test for Project Stream, a service that promises to run any game on any laptop or PC via the Chrome browser. It required a connection of 25 Mbps, but even at that low end of the broadband spectrum, Project Stream worked well. The beta went live in October and Google wasn’t shy about enticing people to give it a go.
Project xCloud hasn’t launched just yet, but Microsoft is planning a beta test this year. Microsoft is in a similar position as Google– it’s spent the past decade or so building out Azure, a robust cloud network that should help keep latency low.
Plus, there’s the Xbox Game Pass. Microsoft is preparing its audience for a subscription-based future, offering access to more than 200 games for $10a month, though unlike PlayStation Now, these aren’t streamed.
Sony, meanwhile, has been operating a subscription-based video game streaming service in PlayStation Now for five years. The service enables players on PlayStation 4 and PC to stream PlayStation 2, 3, and 4 games without a download. It costs $20/month or $100/year.