PC and console gaming has grown exponentially over the last 10 years or so – with modern games requiring high-performance hardware to drive what we consider as playable framerates. Whilst spending a couple of thousand on one of the latest gaming PCs is fine for some individuals, a lot of us will struggle to raise the funds required to play the latest games the market has to offer. Fortunately, new game streaming services now offer a much cheaper alternative – allowing you to play your favorite titles in crystal clear quality.
That’s right, we’re talking about the best game streaming services of 2021. These allow you to play the latest AAA game titles on a phone, tablet, or laptop as if you were sat in front of a powerful gaming PC or console. For a small cost, you’ll be able to stream gaming content from a server located somewhere else in the country. With a high-speed internet connection, you won’t even realize you’re streaming.
In the following article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the best game streaming services of 2021, concluding with which is the best of the bunch.
So, with that said, let’s waste no further time and dive straight into it!
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Best Game Streaming Services: First Look
This versatile streaming service allows you to change any low-end gaming pc, laptop, or even Android smartphone into a high-end gaming PC. Using your current library, you won’t have to spend a dime giving it a try!
Once you’ve purchased a game or two, utilize GeForce Now’s cloud-based processors to experience AAA games at their very best.
Maybe not as versatile as Nvidia’s Geforce Now, PlayStation Now is still a very efficient service that gives you access to a tonne of games from your old PC or PlayStation.
Sony has, arguably, some of the best first-party video games the market has to offer. And until recently, you’d have to own one of their proprietary consoles in order to play them. Fortunately, that is no longer the case, with Playstation Now offering up a tonne of PlayStation games from any PC or outdated PlayStation.
Google Stadia may be the most versatile streaming service in this guide, offering up a bunch of games to individuals using almost any device.
Whilst it only has 40-ish games (at the time of writing this), it still offers very good value for money. Offering up great gameplay for only $10 a month, this is a great place to start for those that don’t want to splash out on an expensive gaming PC.
Xbox Game Pass is a value-packed bundle that offers access to over 100 games across both Xbox and PC – cloud streaming to Xbox Live Gold and Android phone users.
The Xbox Game Pass can be picked up for as little as $15 a month, making it one of the most affordable game streaming packages on this list.
For all intents and purposes, game streaming services are exactly what they say on the tin – a service that allows you to stream games without actually owning a PC or console. You’ll use a client to log into a powerful PC (via the internet) that will be processing the game footage – then streaming it back to your device. This means you get to bypass the taxing impact of gaming and relish seamless gameplay from your sofa.
The client provides a live feed of the video and audio that is produced from the game in the server hardware – streamed directly to your own device. You’ll use a console controller to send input commands to the server hardware – which, in turn, will then perform the actions for you – clever.
Like any streaming service, game streaming also requires a strong and stable internet connection to work efficiently. Whilst you can stream using subpar upload and download speeds, the experience will be exponentially worse – with lag and delay becoming almost unplayable. It doesn’t take much for your game stream to go from playable to completely frustrating either – with fractions of a second having a huge knock-on effect.
Depending on what service you decide to use, we recommend an internet connection of at least 5Mbps to 20Mbps – and always wired. Yes, you can use a wireless connection – but you start to run a real risk of lag by doing so. A wired connection offers the most stable connection from your router, exactly what you need when game streaming.
If you have a good gaming router alongside a strong internet connection, gaming via a game streaming service can feel instantaneous. Lag will be in the milliseconds and it’ll genuinely feel like you’re playing from a PC in your house.
One of the biggest benefits of using a game streaming service is its functionality. Whether you’re using an old work laptop, outdated PC, or just a smartphone, game streaming services still allow you to enjoy seamless, high-performance gameplay. That being said, which is the best device for streaming games on? Well, at the end of the day, it all comes down to what you actually have. If you only have a smartphone – then that’s going to be the best way for you.
Having said that, there are some benefits that might make you lean towards one device over another. For example, a PC or laptop will support an ethernet input – allowing you to link directly to your router and establishing a much stronger internet connection. A Windows PC or laptop also have the added benefit of keyboard and mouse functionality. As you’ll likely be playing console or PC games, having that functionality will feel the most natural. Using a smartphone touchscreen for playing FPS won’t be the greatest experience in the world.
The Best Game Streaming Services
Free to use when you’ve purchased the games
Available on phone, tablet, laptop, or Windows 10 machine
Compatible with a tonne of games
Requires a high-speed internet connection
Kicking things off we have Nvidia GeForce Now – a powerful service that allows you to turn any laptop, PC, tablet, or phone into a high-performance gaming PC. Nvidia’s service allows you to play the latest games from major publishers without the need for a high-end gaming machine.
Unlike other game streaming services, you have to physically purchase the games to be able to utilize GeForce Now. You can use any number of digital stores (Steam, Uplay, Blizzard) to purchase your games, pairing them with the usage of GeForce’s cloud-based processors to stream seamless gameplay from the comfort of your home.
One of the downsides to this, and other streaming services, is that they need a high-end internet connection to run at efficient levels. Nvidia recommends a 15Mbps – 25Mbps internet connection alongside MacOS 10.10 (or higher) and Windows 7 (or higher) for the absolute best streaming experience. Furthermore, a wi-fi connection that uses a 5GHz router is also required to properly utilize this service.
Users do have the option to use a keyboard and mouse or any number of gamepads to play the games they purchase – providing another level of versatility to Nvidia GeForce’s platform.
Access to PlayStation’s expansive games library
Compatible with PCs and older PlayStation models
Plans to include mobile devices in near future
Unlike Stadia (which we’ll touch upon shortly), users that opt for Sony’s game streaming service will be subject to a monthly subscription fee – however, don’t let that put you off. For the monthly subscription (which can be anywhere between $5-10), you arguably get some of the best value from any of the options available. For a start, you get access to Sony’s expansive game library – consisting of over 650 games, respectively. Furthermore, you get to access all these games on your PS4 or PC – depending on what your preference is.
To use Playstation Now, you will need a DualShock 4 controller and a PC/PlayStation – obviously. After you purchased a subscription, you’ll be able to access any game within Sony’s massive games library, with titles that date back to PS2. Whilst many of the games in the Now are permanent, a number of newer titles are a rotational basis. Despite this being somewhat of a flaw, many don’t consider this bothersome.
For me though, the most impressive feature of Playstation Now has to be the quality of the titles you get. Playstation Now subscribers get access to all the latest games, allowing you to get access to games without having to leave the house. Playing the games can be done in 1080p resolution, with a highspeed internet connection offering a fantastic gaming experience.
Excellent value for money
Good device support
Can be used on multiple platforms
Limited number of titles
Google Stadia is not only one of the newest streaming services in this guide, it’s also one of the most versatile too. It comes to the table offering device support from a plethora of platforms which include PC, Mac, Chromecast Ultra, and Android devices – meaning phones and tablets. For all intents and purposes, Google Stadia is the most positive step towards a hardware-free gaming experience – only requiring a streaming device and a peripheral of your choosing.
You can buy individuals games from the services, just as you would on Steam or in your local game store. However, unlike Gears Of War – which requires the use of a console to function properly – Google Stadia games can be played on any device of your choosing. Stadia streams the gameplay to almost any couple through Chrome, meaning you’ll be able to hook your laptop up to the TV and have the latest games on the big screen – not bad. You can also download the Google Stadia app and game from your mobile or tablet too. Just bring a controller and you’ll be gaming in minutes.
For the most part, Stadia streams pretty well and comes equipped with some nice games too – including the likes of Assassin’s Creed, Doom, and more. That being said, however, even when it’s running at full capacity, Google’s graphics aren’t quite as good as you might expect. When compared to PC gameplay, the Stadia falls ever so slightly short.
Whilst this is a pretty major downside, it’s most certainly not the end of the world – and for the price, you can’t argue with the value.
Extensive games library
Doesn’t’ rely on strong internet connection
Access to new releases
Stream on Xbox and PC
To finish proceedings, we’ve gone with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Whilst this isn’t as versatile as others on this list, it does offer its own set of features and benefits that we feel grant it a spot in this guide.
For a start, unlike others in this guide, Xbox Game Pass doesn’t rely on the strength of your internet for a quality gaming experience. Xbox allows you to download the game to your device so that you don’t have to worry about poor internet ruining your connection. For around $15 a month, a subscription to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate will grant you access to more than 100 games – usable on Xbox and PC.
It isn’t just sheer numbers that Xbox Game Pass can flaunt either, with early-access and newly released titles available straight away, you won’t have to wait to play the latest AAA game titles like other services.
Granted, this isn’t strictly a game streaming service – cause you do need an Xbox or PC to make full use of the service. That being said, it still offers a bunch of cool streaming-esque services that make it a good fit for this guide.
So, there you have it, our rundown to the best game streaming services this 2021. Thanks to modern technology, no longer will you have to own a high-performance gaming PC to play the latest AAA game titles in 4K quality. All you now need is a device that has the capacity to stream video content and a powerful internet connection.
The above selections make high-end gaming on a budget a reality. They take away the stress of PC maintenance and upgrades, replacing it with a seamless experience that is void of lag and graphical limitations. One step towards a PC-less gaming experience.
If you have any questions regarding the above streaming services, feel free to drop me a comment in the section below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. Better still, why not head on over to our Community Hub where you can discuss everything gaming related with like-minded individuals.