New Delhi: Till even a few years ago, gamers had to buy a PlayStation 4 console to run PS games. Not anymore. Gaming companies such as Sony and Nvidia have introduced a Netflix-style subscription-based streaming service for video games. These platforms do not require gamers to download or instal large files—the games are streamed directly from the cloud on a PC, old console or even a smartphone.

Sony’s PlayStation Now is one such platform, which hosts more than 650 PS4, PS3 and PS2 games on the cloud. Users can stream the games on any PS4 console or a Windows PC running version 7, 8 or 10. This means PC users can finally get to play some of the exclusive PS titles such as God Of War or Uncharted on their PC. Access to PlayStation Now comes at a monthly subscription fee of $19.99. Players will also have to buy Sony’s Dual Shock 4 controller (₹3,950) as these games will only work with it. The icing on the cake is that it doesn’t require a high-end PC and will work with any Core i3-based PC with 2 GB RAM.

Similarly, Nvidia’s GeForce Now allows gamers to stream over 225 games on Windows, Mac and Nvidia’s Shield devices. It is currently in beta and available only in North America and Europe. GeForce Now is free, but users will have to purchase games from Steam or Uplay. Players don’t have to install the games to play them. All they need is a consistent internet connection offering speeds of at least 25Mbps. Streaming games via PlayStation Now also requires access to 4G speeds.

Vortex is another platform that allows players to run PC games on desktop (Chrome) browser, Mac, Windows PC, TV or even on smartphones. Games are streamed directly from Vortex’s servers, which costs $9.99 per month. Vortex has its own library of over 100 PC games, which means players won’t have to buy games separately.

Microsoft, on its part, is reportedly planning to launch a cloud-based Xbox console, which could run games off Microsoft’s servers so users won’t have to bother installing games on the device.

Cloud-based services have not only made cross-platform gaming possible between consoles and PCs, but also allow players to run PC games on smartphones. Platforms, such as LiquidSky, connect smartphones to a cloud-based virtual PC. The game will be first downloaded and played on a remote server and then compressed and streamed on the smartphone at a frame rate of 60fps. Liquid Sky only serves as a streaming platform and doesn’t have a game store of its own. Its subscription starts at $9.99 per month with 100GB of cloud storage for games. Players can link their Steam, Origin or Blizzard accounts to it.

What sets LiquidSky apart is that it uses the IBM cloud infrastructure, which makes it easy to scale. The only limitation of this platform is that PC games are not yet optimised for touch screen-based devices, which means users will have to rely on game controllers to take advantage of the platform. LiquidSky recommends speeds of up to 20Mbps for the best gaming experience.

PlayStation Now and Vortex still don’t offer many of the new games, which makes them a downer for serious gamers. But, if you are in for a casual gaming experience and do not want to spend a lot on hardware, these platforms will let you play games from your existing PC, TV or smartphone. Even latency, which has been a major limitation of cloud gaming, should not be a major concern if you have access to 4G

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