While the original intention was not to compare the two services (though if we did, GeForce Now may feel left out), comparisons between them almost can’t be avoided.
Cloud gaming isn’t exactly new. In one form or another, it has been around since early 2000s and it went through many phases. Back then, skepticism was abound about its capabilities and utility;from game journalists to the public, people were not sure if this type of gaming would catch on at all.
Many triesand even more defunct services later, Google Stadia launched in Q4 of 2019 with the mission to disrupt and revolutionize the gaming industry. Now, two years later, Xbox Cloud Gaming has come to pretty much every portable device and has opened its streaming service to everyone, including people who do not even game on its console. While still in Beta, Xbox Cloud Gaming is showing a lot of promise.
Is it cloud gaming or remote play?
Despite the name (and the brand marketing), you do not actually need an Xbox console in order to use the Xbox Cloud service. What you will need however is a subscription to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and an Xbox Account, which you can create here for free.
Xbox Cloud gaming streams from Microsoft’s own servers, allowing you to play from everything from an iOS device to a browser, so good internet speed is important. The game is essentially streamed from the Microsoft servers to your device, and the controller input is sent back to the Microsoft servers. The registered input allows you to control and play the game as if you’re doing so on your own console.
This is different to Remote Play, for which you do need a console. Remote play will essentially stream your games from your own console, and let you play them on other devices that aren’t yet available via cloud gaming.
You do not need an Xbox Series X in order to run Xbox Series X games either if you already have an Xbox One. Remote play and Xbox Cloud gaming allow for this, and though it has not been perfected quite yet, Microsoft and Xbox are working on it.
If you’re already a member of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, you might have gotten a message on your Xbox about the ability to stream games to your mobile or your browser via the Xbox app, without the need for installation or download.
The fact that this service is available to existing Xbox Game Pass Ultimate customers as well as those who do not even own a consolemakes Xbox Cloud Gaming more accessible andbetter value for money. It does not require special hardware to access or run and it isn’t forcing gamers to purchase its own hardware to enjoy the service. Big props to Xbox’s gamer-friendly approach!
Google Stadia vs Xbox Cloud Gaming
Google Stadia was launched almost two years before Xbox Cloud gaming, and by extension it has had more time to optimize in areas that Xbox Cloud gaming is still catching up. This isn’t to say that Google Stadia is better, but it is a bit more optimized.
Google Stadia was Google’s first serious attempt at a gaming console and since its launch it has ironed out a lot of its initial problems, such as streaming stuttering, janky implementation, and a number of other issues with connection. Google Stadia has for the most part solved these issues and has further optimized the platform, allowing for 4K HDR streaming (through supported displays) and 60 fps. Xbox Cloud Gaming now runs on the Xbox Series X hardware, and while 4k isn’t yet available, the games stream in 1080p and at 60 fps.
Unless you have the hardware necessary to run 4k streaming, this isn’t going to make a whole lot of difference to you as the resolution will lock at 1080p for both. For Google Stadia, your rig (and the internet connection) will need to be pretty beefy in order to manage the 4k, and even if your gear is spec’d to it, it still may not run in 4k at all.
All that aside, however, the value for money that Xbox Cloud Gaming viaXbox Game Pass Ultimate offers is unprecedented. There is a massive library of games available to players, with some games available on the service on day one. Google Stadia does have a subscription service, Google Stadia Pro, which allows you to stream/play some games for free, but much like the console model, you will still need to purchase games you’d like to play.
The vastness of the Stadia’s library cannot be ignored, but as previously mentioned, Google Stadia has had almost two years head start in streaming ahead of Xbox Cloud Gaming. The subscription service for Google Stadia is very similar to the console model. You will still need to purchase games you’d want to play and even though Google Stadia Pro subscription service does house some free games, they’re very few and far between.
The future of Xbox Cloud Gaming
Xbox Cloud Gaming will not be merely another service, and Microsoft is making sure of that. Xbox appears to be building an omnipresence in the gaming and entertainment markets. Back in June, Microsoft announced that they’re working with TV manufacturers on a dedicated Xbox TV app that will be powered by its cloud service. This essentially means streaming games directly from the TV without the need for a console.
Last year in an interview with The Verge, Phil Spencer hinted at a TV app that will allow streaming from TVs, stating that smart TVs themselves are consoles locked behind a screen. When this will be available has not yet been announced, but we are keeping an eye on development. No other service has attempted this, and no gaming company has been this adamant about bringing gaming to everyone like Microsoft.
In addition, a Facebook dev blog post last year revealed that the Xbox Cloud Gaming technology will be brought to Facebook Gaming, or as they’ve put it “new playable experiences on Facebook Gaming”that will be powered by the Xbox’s Cloud streaming service.
Google Stadia has planted its feet firmly around existing gamers, but judging by the Microsoft’s ambitious gaming push, Xbox Cloud Gaming has set out to make everyone a gamer.
Article contributer: Jack Mitchell