Cloud Gaming – How Does Playing Without A PC or Console Work?

Cloud Gaming

Do you want to play a new PC or console game but need the necessary hardware? Cloud gaming is the solution for you. Provided you have a fast internet connection, you can play games “remotely” without installing them on your device. Companies like Sony, Microsoft and Nvidia already offer cloud gaming – but which service is suitable for which target group? Does cloud gaming also have disadvantages, and how can it be used on smartphones? We answer these and other questions below.

How Does Cloud Gaming Work?

Before cloud gaming was invented, a simple principle applied: If you wanted to play a video game, you had to install it on your device. This requires not only private hardware, such as a console or a PC with enough computing power. The game files must also be saved to the device’s hard drive, which can be done the old-fashioned way via DVD or download.

“Wait a minute,” thought resourceful developers. When streaming videos, data is sent to the user so that they can see a film or series on their screen. This principle can also be used in the opposite direction with sufficient internet speed – which is how cloud gaming works.

For example, If you play a game via cloud gaming, your input – such as character movements – is sent via the Internet to a data center and processed there. The external computer does what you tell it to do from kilometers away. You will then receive feedback through images and sounds streamed to your device. So you see how your character moves – almost in real-time.

The game is not on your device, so you don’t need the necessary computing power or enough storage space.

Cloud gaming theoretically only requires three things.

  • An input device supported by the game: e.g. B. Mouse and keyboard or controller
  • Access to the data centre: usually through a paid subscription.
  • An apparatus for receiving image and sound data.

The device can be a PC or a console. But cloud gaming is also possible on laptops, notebooks, smartphones and smart televisions. An app from the provider is usually installed for this purpose. If this is impossible – for example, on iOS devices – cloud gaming can also be used via the web browser, depending on the service.

But which games are available? That depends entirely on the offer. Some cloud gaming services only provide the computing power to play previously purchased games. Other offerings include a library of titles. You can access these for a monthly payment.

Advantages of Cloud Gaming

No expensive hardware is required.

You want to play a new computer or console game but need the necessary hardware. Instead of spending a lot of money on a high-end PC or console, you can “rent” the power of computing required via cloud gaming – for as long as you need it. Depending on the provider, all you need to run the game is a cheap desktop PC, a laptop or a smartphone.

More comfort and flexibility

Putting together the perfect gaming PC is a challenge. Components such as processor, RAM, graphics card or storage space need to be well thought out and coordinated with one another. In addition, what is considered groundbreaking hardware today may be outdated tomorrow. Only some gamers want to update their system every few months. Cloud gaming offers more convenience here because you always get the proper hardware for the game of your choice.

Multi-platform compatibility

Do you want to play a PC game that is only available for Xbox or PlayStation? Thanks to cloud gaming, this is fine. Since only images and sound are transmitted, the barriers between the individual platforms are eliminated. And that’s not all: As mentioned, the game files are not on your devices but in the cloud. You can, therefore, flexibly switch back and forth between PC, laptop or smartphone while gaming.

Disadvantages of Cloud Gaming

Fast Internet required

When it comes to cloud gaming, large amounts of data have to be transferred – always depending on the quality in which the game is displayed. If the internet speed is too slow, there will be delays between your input and the stream. For example, it can happen that you fire your weapon but only see the corresponding action on the screen seconds later.

Most providers require the following transfer rates as a minimum:

  • 10 Mbps for HD gaming
  • 20 Mbit/s for gaming in Full HD
  • 50 Mbps for gaming in 4K

By the way, most locations need LTE speeds to be faster for cloud gaming. If you want to play on the go, you need a 5G-capable smartphone and must be in the 5G catchment area. But a problem remains: an hour of cloud gaming can easily use up to 15 GB. Gaming outside your own four walls is only practical if you have a tariff with unlimited data volume.

Not completely instantaneous

Even if you use a fast internet connection, there may be delays when cloud gaming. These may only matter if you play more leisurely strategy or role-playing games. However, things are different in competitive multiplayer shooters. Every millisecond counts here – probably one reason why cloud gaming has not yet been able to establish itself in this area.

A limited selection of games

Cloud gaming providers already make numerous games available. However, there is no guarantee that the title of your choice will be available. For example, if you prefer lesser-known Indi games, you will have difficulty finding them on cloud gaming platforms, and you will usually look for older PC games in vain. If the game is only available on DVD, you cannot play it via cloud gaming.

The Most Crucial Cloud Gaming Providers

PlayStation Now

Let’s start with a true pioneer of cloud gaming: PlayStation Now. This offer started back in 2014 and now includes over 700 games. This includes PlayStation 4 titles and classics from the PS 3 and PS 2 generations. Only games that are exclusive to the PlayStation 5 are currently not available.

Here’s how PlayStation Now works:

To use Sony’s cloud gaming, you need PlayStation Plus – in the premium version, which costs 10-17 euros per month, depending on the term. For this price, you can access all games in the PlayStation Plus library at no additional cost.

You also need a DualShock controller and a corresponding device: owners of a PlayStation 4 or PlayStation5 have it most accessible. These consoles support cloud gaming out of the box, while on Windows PCs, you first have to install the Sony app.

Unfortunately, PlayStation Now is currently not available for smartphones and tablets. If you still want to play games on these devices, you need your own PS4 or PS5 console and have to activate the PS Remote Play service there.

Sony is less demanding than many competitors regarding your internet requirements: only 5 Mbit/s is required if you want to stream games with 720p resolution. 1080p requires at least 15 Mbps.

Xbox cloud gaming

Formerly known as Project xCloud, Xbox Cloud Gaming offers access to over 100 games, including many current new releases and older titles.

Although the selection of games cannot compete with Sony’s, more devices are supported: You can stream the fun on the PC or the Xbox X, S and One consoles and smartphones. Android users install the Microsoft app, while iOS users use their browsers.

Speaking of smartphones: More than 200 Xbox games can already be controlled via touch screen. For all other games, you need a controller.

Regarding hardware, Xbox Cloud Gaming has made a significant leap forward with the switch to the Xbox X series. Resolution increased from 720p to 1080p, while loading times were reduced. Of course, this upgrade is noticeable in the internet connection requirements: it should be at least 20 Mbit/s to stream games smoothly.

Like the Sony equivalent, Xbox Cloud Gaming is not available individually. Instead, you must purchase Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which costs 13 euros monthly. Essential: The selection of games in Game Pass is constantly changing as titles are added or removed. However, if you want, you can also buy games at a discount and stream them via the cloud.

Nvidia GeForce Now

Nvidia does more than just build high-performance graphics cards. According to its information, the company is also delivering the “next generation of cloud gaming”. The business model is somewhat different than that of Sony or Microsoft. Instead of a library of games, Nvidia only provides the computing power – but this is impressive.

Users can access a lightning-fast RTX graphics card in the priority version for 9.99 euros per month. The premium subscription for 19.99 euros per month offers even more hardware power. Inputs are then processed by the RTX 4080, a graphics card that retails for a whopping 1,500 euros and can handle even the most demanding games. The image quality is just as impressive: up to 2560 x 1440 pixels are possible on a PC monitor, television or smartphone. If you buy the Nvidia Shield streaming box, you can enjoy 4K resolution (3480 x 2160 pixels).

Of course, you need a fast internet connection for this graphic splendour. Nvidia requires 15 Mbit/s if you want to stream at 720p, 25 Mbit/s for 1080p, and 40 Mbit/s for 4K with Nvidia Shield.

As already mentioned, there are no games included in Geforce Now. Instead, you must buy them in shops like Steam, the Epic Games Store or GOG and connect them to Nvidia’s cloud gaming service. More than 1,500 games are already supported, and you can play them on various devices, from Windows PCs to smartphones to smart TVs. Nvidia Geforce Now can also be used in the browser.


Strictly speaking, Shadow is more than a cloud gaming service: This French company provides a complete Windows PC that you can control over the Internet – for example, to run complex software.

Shadow is available in two variants:

The basic version costs 29.99 euros per month and offers you:

  • Intel XEON™ CPU with 3.5 GHz (or equivalent)
  • GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card (or equivalent)
  • 12GB RAM
  • 256GB storage

You can book the Ultimate version for 44.98 euros per month if you need even more power. In addition to a more powerful CPU and graphics card, this also includes 4 GB more RAM.

There is also the option to expand the storage space to 5 TB. 256 GB costs 3 euros.

In addition to a wide range of usage options and robust hardware, Shadow offers another advantage: the service can be used on all imaginable devices: for example, Windows PCs, Macs, tablets or smartphones. All that is required is a transfer rate of 16 Mbit/s or more.


Anyone with an appropriate internet connection can save money with cloud gaming – after all, the monthly costs are significantly lower than the prices for Xbox and PlayStation consoles, graphics cards or even complete high-end PCs.

But which cloud gaming service is exemplary for you? This mainly depends on your requirements:

  • PlayStation Now and Xbox Cloud Gaming are ideal if you want access to a wide range of console games.
  • Nvidia Geforce Now offers you the power of a high-end graphics card to play even the most complex online games.
  • Shadow primarily aims at users needing their remote PC for multiple applications. If you want to play, Nvidia’s offer will be cheaper.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *