What Are Game Streaming and Cloud Gaming?

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Game streaming and cloud gaming are reshaping the landscape of gaming. With a fast Internet connection, gamers can now harness the power of a high-performance PC from virtually anywhere. Game streaming—also known as gaming on-demand or gaming-as-a-service—enables users to access their own PC remotely in real time via any Internet-enabled device (such as a laptop or tablet). In short, it enables gamers to play anytime, anywhere—not just at home. 

On the other hand, cloud gaming grants you access to a remote PC hosted within a sprawling server center, often in exchange for a subscription fee. The upside? With cloud gaming, you're liberated from the financial commitment of purchasing and maintaining your own gaming equipment. 

Thanks to cloud gaming and streaming, the days of having to buy a massive desktop PC or pricey gaming console to play the latest games are rapidly fading into the past. Join us as we delve into the benefits of game streaming services and cloud gaming and explain how to choose an Internet plan that supports your gaming needs .

What ls Game Streaming?

Game streaming enables players to enjoy video games on devices not traditionally used for gaming—like a cell phone or a tablet—in real time over the Internet. However, you need to already have a gaming PC or a console, and it needs to stay on at home. Instead of running the game on the player's phone or tablet, game streaming services enable the game to run on your PC and be “streamed” to your device (in real time) via the Internet. 

Here are the key components that allow game streaming to work:

  • Player's device : Players use a web browser or app to connect to a game server via a smartphone, tablet, smart TV, or computer.
  • Video feed : The game is run on the remote server (your PC or gaming console), and video feed of the gameplay is captured in real time. This video feed is then compressed and sent over the Internet to the player's device.
  • Input commands : Players send input commands like button presses and mouse movements to the server, and the server processes these inputs to update the game instantly.
  • Video output : The server instantly sends back the updated video feed to the player's device, creating the illusion that the game is running locally rather than via a remote server.

What ls Cloud Gaming?

Cloud gaming is a broader term that encompasses various gaming services and technologies. Like game streaming, it enables players to access games remotely. The benefit of cloud gaming over streaming, however, is that you don’t need to have a PC with all your favorite games downloaded. Instead, games are streamed via remote servers owned by the cloud gaming company. As such, gamers can start playing games in minutes, without having to wait for their chosen title to download to a PC. Cloud gaming also enables gamers to access a full library of games (for a monthly fee) or purchase individual titles à la carte.

Technically, cloud gaming is a specific category within game streaming—but while game streaming involves using your personal computer remotely, cloud gaming provides access (through a device like a smartphone, tablet, or gaming console) to a PC located within a larger server center. 

Cloud gaming can include both game streaming and other cloud-based gaming models, such as:

Game downloads : Some cloud gaming platforms allow players to download and install games from the cloud onto their local devices. These games can be played locally, but they are hosted in the cloud for easy access and management.

Cloud save and progress : Cloud gaming often includes features like cloud save, where game progress and settings are stored in the cloud, making it possible to seamlessly switch between devices without losing your progress.

Game library access : Services may provide access to a library of games that players can stream or download, offering a subscription-based model for game access.

What Internet Speed Is Needed for Game Streaming and Cloud Gaming?

Game streaming and cloud gaming both require a reliable high-speed Internet connection

The Internet speed you need depends largely on the types of games you plan to play. A minimum download speed of 10-20 Mbps is often recommended for a basic gaming experience with lower-quality settings. However, for higher-resolution streaming, you should aim for 25-50 Mbps or higher.

If you are looking to enhance your gaming experience, Optimum's fiber-optic Internet options feature fast Internet speeds at competitive prices. Our plans offer speeds of up to 8 Gig with symmetrical upload and download speeds. You'll also get 99.9% reliability*, lower latency —which means less lag for seamless streaming and gaming—and increased bandwidth for multiple devices.

*99.9% reliability claim excludes outages caused by external events and scheduled maintenance.

What Are Game Streaming Services?

Game streaming applications let you access your PC remotely via an Internet connection. There are a few products that support both Windows and macOS hosts. Examples of game streaming services include:

Steam Remote Play : Steam Remote Play (formerly known as Steam In-Home Streaming) is a feature of the Steam gaming platform. It allows users to stream games from one computer (the host) to another (the client) on the same local network or over the Internet. This feature supports both Windows and macOS hosts and a variety of client devices, including Steam Link hardware, Android, iOS, and smart TVs.

Parsec : This versatile game streaming application supports both local and remote gaming experiences. It allows users to host games on one PC and stream them to another PC or device, enabling multiplayer gaming even when the players are in different locations. Parsec is compatible with Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and Raspberry Pi.

Moonlight Game Streaming : Moonlight is an open-source game streaming application that was originally designed for use with NVIDIA's GameStream technology. It enables users to stream games from a PC with an NVIDIA GPU to various client devices, including Android, iOS, macOS, and Raspberry Pi. Moonlight offers excellent performance and low latency when used with compatible hardware.

What Are The Best Cloud Gaming Platforms?

There are several cloud gaming services gamers can choose from, each with different features and offerings. Keep reading to learn more about a few popular cloud gaming platforms.

Shadow

Shadow offers a dedicated cloud gaming service that delivers a top-notch performance. It provides powerful hardware configurations for smooth gaming experiences. The platform dedicates an entire computer to the users, with a full-access cloud PC. This means they can tweak all the system settings as they would on a conventional machine.

Users can expect flexibility in terms of game compatibility and the ability to install and run any PC software. Shadow is an excellent choice for those who demand the best hardware performance but don't want to invest in an expensive gaming setup. Instead, you’ll pay a monthly subscription fee.

GeForce Now

GeForce Now is an alternative cloud gaming solution from Nvidia that focuses on allowing users to stream games from their existing libraries on platforms like Steam and Epic Games Store. However, it doesn't offer free games to subscribers. Instead, it provides access to over 1,500 titles from digital PC game stores, eliminating the need for downloads but requiring game purchases.

The free version of GeForce Now has no restriction on the number of daily sessions but has limitations, including server queues and a one-hour limit on game sessions. Paid members can enjoy benefits such as up to 4K resolution, longer game sessions, and the possibility to move to the front of the queue. GeForce Now is an attractive option for those who want to play their existing game library on various devices without a substantial upfront cost.

Xbox Cloud Gaming

With Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming (aka xCloud), users can access a library of hundreds of video games through Xbox Game Pass. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate includes access to Xbox Cloud Gaming, Xbox Game Pass for PC, and Xbox Live Gold, making it a comprehensive gaming subscription. 

Pricing varies depending on the subscription plan, but it offers excellent value for gamers who want access to a diverse library of games. The service's performance is impressive, providing a console-quality gaming experience on supported hardware.

PlayStation Now

PlayStation Now is a cloud gaming service from Sony that allows you to stream hundreds of games from Sony's servers to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, or Windows PC. That means users can play games on their devices without having to download or install them. This gaming service delivers high-performance gaming, even on low-end devices, and frequently adds new games to its library, including the latest releases.

There are a variety of pricing options for PlayStation Now, including monthly and yearly subscriptions. It's an excellent choice for fans of PlayStation games and those who appreciate the convenience of streaming a wide range of titles.

Understanding Which Service You Should Use

Game streaming services and cloud gaming have the potential to break down barriers by making gaming more accessible to players worldwide. With the increasing availability of reliable and high-bandwidth Internet connections, players can seamlessly access and enjoy these services.

If you already have a gaming PC or console, downloading a game streaming app can enable you to play while you’re on the go. However, keep in mind that to play your games remotely, you’ll need to keep your console or PC on 24/7, which can increase your electricity bill.

Cloud gaming services, on the other hand, provide a convenient way to enjoy the latest popular titles, especially for those without a personal gaming console. While not free, cloud services cost less than gaming consoles, making them an excellent choice for individuals with limited time or financial resources to invest in a gaming PC or console.

No matter what game you’re streaming, you will need solid and reliable Internet that will be able to match your gaming speed without any input lag or latency. Optimum provides fast, reliable Internet speeds to take advantage of all the online gaming world has to offer.

Are you getting everything you need from your home internet? 

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Have a question about Optimum Internet service? Explore our Frequently Asked Questions page or contact us for answers. 

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