Several of the world’s biggest tech companies have all launched cloud gaming services by now. From Google’s Stadia to Microsoft’s xCloud to Sony’s PlayStation Now to Nvidia’s GeForce Now to Amazon’s Luna, would-be cloud gamers have plenty of options for streaming games onto all manner of devices.
The rise of multiple competing cloud gaming services may seem unexpected in 2020, given that this is also a big year for high-end gaming hardware, with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X on the horizon this fall, and Nvidia’s recent debut of a new line of PC graphics cards. But cloud gaming services show that gamers don’t necessarily need expensive, high-powered hardware to enjoy video games, even triple-A titles. All that’s necessary is a decent internet connection, and with internet access and connectivity increasing around the world, the promise of cloud gaming may finally be within reach.
Still, cloud gaming’s pitch has been a hard sell in the past. In the early 2010s, cloud gaming services like OnLive and GameFly rose and fell, and Google’s cloud gaming service Stadia has already had a rocky launch since its debut in 2019. Many remain skeptical about how cloud gaming even works, whether it’ll take off, and what’s worth playing in the cloud.
With all that in mind, Polygon will bring cloud gaming back down to Earth in this ongoing series of reports, analyses, video game recommendations, and even a picture book explaining how cloud gaming actually works.