What Is Cloud Gaming and How Does It Work: The Fundamentals of Modern Gaming

Playing games is a great way to experience different worlds where gamers work together to overcome obstacles and triumph in battle. However, exploring worlds ends when there’s not enough space to download more games, or the system can no longer support high-end game updates. Fortunately, developers have found a way to curb that problem through cloud gaming. But what is cloud gaming?

Cloud gaming has become a significant industry trend in the past few years. This article will discuss the basics of cloud gaming, including what it is, how it functions, some examples, its significance, and frequently asked questions.

What is cloud gaming?

Cloud gaming is a technology that enables users to stream games from remote servers. With a cloud gaming system, you don’t have to download and set up games on your PC or gaming console. Instead, cloud game servers need a stable internet connection to send game data to an app or browser on a device running the game. The game is displayed and played on a remote server, but everything you see and do is on your device.

backview of a man playing in front of computer screen

Clearing the Difference: Cloud Gaming Services vs. Game Servers

It’s common practice to use both of these terms interchangeably. However, cloud gaming services are entirely different from game servers.

Gaming servers host multiplayer video games online and facilitate quick, reliable, and stable connections to those games. The best thing about game servers is that gamers can use them to host games reliably and with better performance.

However, with a cloud gaming service, you can play without a home gaming system. When using a cloud gaming service, there is no need to download the game to your device, just like when streaming your favorite shows. Instead, you access content stored on a remote server through an encrypted connection. This allows for efficient content streaming from cloud gaming services.

How does cloud gaming work?

We’ve answered your question regarding what a cloud game is. But how do cloud games work?

This trend in the gaming industry works on a subscription basis. Access to high-quality game content usually requires a monthly, quarterly, or annual subscription. For certain services, users must purchase games in addition to the subscription fee.

Several subscription models for cloud-based gaming systems also exist. The user’s access to the available games is tied directly to their subscription type. The more you pay for your subscription, the more extensive your game catalog will be. In addition, some services bill you for using their remote hardware per minute or per hour.

What are examples of cloud gaming systems?

Once you’ve grasped the meaning and function of cloud gaming, it’s time to dig into the specifics of the most popular cloud gaming services.

Want to outsource game development and add cloud gaming capabilities to your games? Check out these cloud gaming services that are dominating the market.

Man's hand holding Playstation 5 controller

Sony’s All-New PlayStation Plus

PlayStation Plus is Sony’s cloud-based gaming service that allows users to play hundreds of older Sony games on the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, or PC.

In 2022, Sony combined the formerly separate PlayStation Now and PlayStation Plus services. The original PlayStation Plus included online multiplayer, three free games, and discounts each month. In contrast, Sony’s PlayStation Now service allows users to stream many games from PS2, PS3, PS4, PS5, and PC. The all-new PlayStation Plus merges the two previous services into one.

The updated cloud gaming system features three subscription types: premium, essential, and extra. Monthly games, online multiplayer, shareable gameplay, cloud storage space, and other features can vary significantly between plans. With any of these subscription options, you can play games without downloading them beforehand, which saves you a lot of console storage.

Here’s how each tier differs:

PlayStation Plus Premium: everything from the PlayStation Plus Essential and PlayStation Plus Extra tiers is included here, plus some additional premium features such as:

  • Game Trials – try out some of the biggest releases before buying them on Ps5 and PS4
  • Classics Catalog – play old games from previous Sony PlayStation versions
  • Cloud Streaming – stream PlayStation Plus games to PS5, PS4, and PC

Subscription Prices: $17.99 monthly / $49.99 quarterly / $119.99 yearly

PlayStation Plus Extra: includes all the features of PlayStation Plus Essential, plus a vast game catalog to download and play at your leisure.

  • Game Catalog – explore a library of hundreds of PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 games

Subscription Prices: $14.99 monthly / $39.99 quarterly / $99.99 yearly

PlayStation Plus Essential: gain access to online gaming, a curated game library available for download every month, and other features like:

  • Monthly games
  • Exclusive discounts
  • Online multiplayer
  • Exclusive content
  • Delivery at no extra cost

Subscription Prices: $9.99 monthly / $24.99 quarterly / $59.99 yearly

The minimum speed requirement for this cloud gaming service is 5 Mbps. Sony also recommends using a hardwired connection rather than a wireless one for the smoothest possible experience.

man's left hand holding xbox console while xbox game pass ultimate is showing on tv screen

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is a merger of the Xbox Game Pass and the Xbox Game Pass PC. Over 100 high-quality games are available, and users can compete against the millions of Xbox console users online.

Games like Doom Eternal, Forza Horizon 5, and Gears 5 are available for download on the Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and PC and can be played on the Xbox console. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate costs $1 monthly, while Xbox Live Gold costs $9.99 monthly.

There are also free-to-play games and access to Discord Nitro and Spotify Premium on this cloud gaming system. As for internet connectivity, 5G ensures a seamless experience with no hiccups. For the platform to work well, you need an internet speed of at least 10 Mbps.

Google Stadia Premiere Edition Controller Packaging in Living room with TV in Background

Google Stadia

Google Stadia is Google’s very own cloud gaming system. The system allows you to play video games on your mobile devices without needing a gaming console or a high-powered computer. In addition, you can play high-quality games despite your computer’s specifications because the rendering is done on Google servers and then streamed to your device. Google Stadia is accessible in 22 countries, including the US, the UK, and some parts of Europe. It supports over 200 games, including Borderlands 3, Cyberpunk 2077, Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

Google Stadia has two subscription tiers: free and pro.

With the free plan, you can skip the lengthy registration process and start playing the entire game for 60 to 180 minutes. However, you can only access a small number of titles in the free plan, including Infinite, Shades of Horror Playable, and Recharged.

On the other hand, Stadia Pro costs $9.99/month after the initial Stadia Pro trial. Additional features like 4K resolution, 60 frames per second, HDR, and 5.1 surround sound are accessible with at least 35 Mbps connections. As long as your subscription is active, the cloud gaming system’s pro plan lets you add your favorite free games to your library. Additionally, the platform enables you to pay a lower price for games from third parties that aren’t included in the package.

The latency of your streams is dependent on your connection speed. Google recommends a minimum of 10 Mbps to get 720p resolution at 60 fps with stereo sound. To get 1080p at 60 fps with HDR, you’ll need a connection speed of at least 20 Mbps. Additionally, 35 Mbps is required for 4K resolution.

cloud gaming showing on phone screen with xbox and airdrops on table

Why is cloud gaming important?

Many players, developers, and publishers can benefit from cloud gaming. From having access to high-resolution game-level designs to saving money, here’s why cloud gaming is essential:

  • Cloud gaming systems eliminate the need for a high-end gaming PC or console, so buying and maintaining them costs less. Instead, you pay a monthly or yearly fee to use powerful gaming PCs or stream content from remote servers. Even if you have to buy games separately for some services, you’ll still save money and time in the long run by playing games in the cloud.
  • Since everything is stored in the cloud, you can access your games and saved data where you are. As long as you have a reliable internet connection, you can play games on any device anytime.
  • With cloud gaming, players don’t have to worry about saving space on their consoles, eliminating the need to pay a hefty premium to increase their storage capacity.
  • Since players aren’t downloading the game, a cloud-based gaming system is a win for publishers and developers because it reduces the risk of piracy and the need for digital rights management. All you get is online streaming access.
  • When it comes to online and competitive gaming, cloud gaming can be a huge boon because it guarantees that all players have access to the same hardware and performance. This also allows publishers to save money on development and give more budget to other areas like designing video game characters.
hands of male player holding cloud gaming console in front of computer screen

FAQs About Cloud Gaming

Want to learn more about cloud gaming? Here are some of the frequently asked questions regarding cloud-based gaming systems:

Do you have to pay for cloud gaming?

Essentially, yes. Some cloud gaming services offer free plans, but your cloud gaming experience will be much better if you pay for a pro package. Most free plans have time limits, and the platform will ask you to subscribe if you want to play the game without interruptions.

Is cloud gaming expensive?

The price of a cloud gaming subscription depends on the cloud gaming system you prefer. For example, Xbox Game Pass offers subscriptions ranging from $1 to $9.99 monthly. Other popular cloud gaming services charge higher monthly and yearly fees, but you can be sure you’ll get the best gaming experience possible.

Can you play cloud gaming without WiFi?

Unfortunately, no. The whole concept of cloud gaming depends on the user’s stable internet connection. This is because cloud gaming systems require users to connect to remote servers before they can play games.

man playing using controller on blue background

Embrace the Future of Gaming with Cloud-Based Systems

The advent of cloud gaming is surprising to some people, but it’s undoubtedly revolutionizing the gaming industry. With more people subscribing to cloud gaming systems, their technology will improve. As a result, cloud gaming will soon become the most popular trend for gamers, publishers, and developers.

Got more questions about cloud gaming? Contact us today, and we’ll be happy to answer your queries!