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Cloud gaming is the new way to game, especially if you’re trying not to spring hundreds of dollars on a new console, or if you’re interested in gaming on the go. With cloud gaming, you can stream your favorite games on your mobile, tablet or laptop, without worrying about lugging your Xbox, Playstation or PC around.
Before searching for the best cloud gaming service for you, here are a few things to keep in mind about what to look for.
What Is CloudGaming?
Cloud gaming refers to streaming games over the internet without having to download games onto your PC, smartphone, tablet, or laptop. All you really need to cloud game is a stable internet connection. Since cloud gaming happens online (or in the “cloud”), you’ll also save storage space as you won’t have to download the game onto your device. Certain cloud gaming services also let you stream your favorite games straight to your TV, completely eliminating the need for a console.
Sure, having a console means better specs on all your games and the ability to game without requiring a fast-speed internet connection. But, if you’re a new gamer and don’t mind that slight compromise, cloud gaming can save you hundreds of dollars.
What Are the Best Cloud Gaming Services?
There are many different cloud gaming services available, and we’ve rounded up the best ones below — including highlighting their game offerings and streaming resolution options.
1. Xbox Cloud Gaming (Through Xbox Game Pass Ultimate)
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate doesn’t just let you play hundreds of free games on your Xbox console every month, but it also gives you access to Xbox Cloud Gaming, which lets you stream games like ForzaHorizon 5 on your smartphone, tablet, laptop and even your Samsung TV.
classic games like Batman: Arkham Knight and minecraft dungeons can be accessed through Xbox Cloud Gaming and newer games like the recently released Ace Dusk Falls are also available to play — new games are added to the library monthly. You’ll obviously need a stable internet connection to play, at least 10mbps on mobile devices which can be achieved with a 5ghz WiFi or mobile network connection.
Video resolution is pretty strong too, especially if you’re using the Microsoft Edge browser while you game which offers a significant clarity boost. Xbox Cloud Gaming is best paired with the Xbox Wireless Controller, although you can also use other Bluetooth controllers verified by Xbox as well.
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2. NVIDIA GeForce Now
GeForce Now is a rather unique cloud gaming service because it doesn’t provide any of its own game titles but allows you to stream from other services such as Steam, Epic and Ubisoft Connect. It’s also one of the only cloud gaming services that offers a free tier, which means you can game for an hour on basic settings if you don’t feel like paying extra.
That said if you’re looking for better resolution and lower input lag, we suggest upgrading to one of the premium tiers, with the $9.99/month subscription giving you access to 60 frames per second at 1080 (FHD) resolution or the $14.99/month subscription offering up to 4K resolution if your game title and the device support it.
As for the gaming library, it’s ever cloud gaming enabled game offered through Steam, Epic, Ubisoft Connect, Origin and even GOG. There’s a wide variety of compatible controllers and gamepads too, including our favorite, the Razer Kishi. Check out Nvidia’s full list of compatible drivers here.
Amazon Luna is one of the most comprehensive gaming services we’ve tested. You’ve got multiple gaming ‘channels’ to choose from within Amazon Luna, like Luna+, Ubisoft+, a Family gaming pack, a Retro gaming pack and even Jackbox games. Each subscription is priced differently starting at about $4.99/month and if you’re a Prime member, you’ll even get access to the Prime Gaming channel for free.
Related: Get a 30-Day Free Trial to Amazon Prime
The game catalog is pretty vast, with options like Starcraft: Remastered and even Myst available for free. Plus, depending on the subscription you choose, you’ll get additional games available to play every month. We definitely recommend grabbing the Luna Controller to go with your subscription for the best possible gameplay. Amazon’s Luna controller offers the lowest input lag as it connects directly over WiFi to send information to Amazon’s servers. You can definitely use another controller with this game streaming service, although they might not be as responsive as Amazon’s flagship controller.
You’ll be able to use Amazon Luna on your laptop, smartphone and even your iPad. Plus, Amazon Luna is able to stream on Fire TV, allowing you to game on the big screen without any issues. The streaming resolution currently caps at 1080p if you have a stable internet connection, but Amazon is working on making 4K streaming available soon.
Don’t have a Prime membership? Get a 30-day free trial to test out the service here.