For the past several years, the global gaming industry has started a long, slow move away from console and PC-based gaming. The replacement for those platforms is supposed to be a new breed of cloud game streaming services that bring all of the latest AAA titles (and more) to the device of your choice via the internet. The idea is, you can play the games you want, on whatever device you own – thus ending the hardware replacement cycle forever.
If only it were that easy.
As anyone who now counts services like Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and others among their monthly video streaming subscriptions can tell you, market fragmentation is costly and inconvenient. Already, Google's Stadia and Nvidia's GeForce Now have spent months trying to displace Sony's PlayStation Now service as the go-to game streaming solution. Now Amazon's about to enter the fray which can only mean more subscription fees for gamers who want access to the widest variety of titles.
Lost in all of this, of course, is the fact that PC gamers already had access to the vast majority of new games, plus hundreds of thousands of others dating back to the early 1980s. Theirs is a problem of portability – not access. But what if they could have their own game streaming option that included the PC titles they already own, plus whatever games they buy in the future? As it turns out, they can. Here are two ways to do it.
Host Your Own Streaming Games
The easiest way for gamers to get started streaming their favorite games to other devices is to leverage the power of their existing gaming PC to do it. It's possible by using a piece of software called Parsec, which turns the machine it's running on into a server that can stream games at 60fps to other devices via a LAN or WAN connection. Oh, and by the way, it doesn't cost a dime to use it.
For anyone with even basic technical ability, the setup's a breeze and the system can be up and ready to use in mere minutes. Better still, the hardware requirements to use it mean that even a low-end gaming PC should be capable of hosting games. And if you'd rather run an instance of Parsec on a GPU-accelerated cloud server from Amazon AWS, Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure, you can do that too. But, if you want a dedicated cloud gaming PC, there's an even better option available.
Gaming with Shadow
Imagine, if you will, always having a state-of-the-art gaming PC without ever having to buy new gear again. That's the idea behind Shadow, which operates multiple datacenters filled with exactly that. It's also a bring-your-own-games model that lets you stream every PC game you own to any device you want. The difference here is, your monthly subscription comes with automatic hardware upgrades as they become available.
With a Shadow cloud instance, you'll never have to worry about a failing video card or an overheating CPU ever again. If your cloud gaming PC has a problem, the workload is shifted elsewhere while Shadow's operators fix the problem. In short, you get all of the benefits of the big game streaming services, but your game catalog isn't at someone else's mercy. It's enough to make you want to toss out your consoles and round up all of your discs so you can sell games online to cover your monthly subscription costs (and yes, it's that cheap).
Game Streaming, Your Way
With these great options available, it's a wonder that any PC gamer would ever consider buying a subscription to one of the major game streaming providers. With either of the above, you get to play any game you own, on almost every device you own, and nobody can take them away from you (I'm looking at you, GeForce Now). That sounds like a much better value proposition than any of the new game streaming platforms can ever hope to be – and I'd be willing to bet that any PC gamer reading this would agree with that assessment.