Mobile gaming has come a long way since its inception. What started off as a non-interactive and quite niche domain of gaming, has evolved into something that’s virtually irreplaceable today!
Owing to this growth, the latest and quite possibly the most interesting aspect of mobile gaming, at the moment, is Cloud Gaming.
And rightfully so! Of course, who wouldn’t want to carry a powerful, fully-specced PC in their pocket? Instead of carrying around a heavy gaming PC everywhere you go, you can simply turn to Cloud Gaming, and make the world your oyster!
In this article, I’m going to review 7 of the best Cloud Gaming applications that you can use on Android!
Sounds interesting? Let’s get down to it!
First on the list is Google Stadia, the proprietary Cloud Gaming application from Google.
Initially released as a Beta application in November 2019, Google Stadia is possibly one of the best cloud gaming platforms right now!
Stadia offers the users console-quality performance with both 1080p and 4k options at 60fps. Not bad figures at all!
Though it started off with only a handful of titles at its release, Google Stadia now boasts a game library consisting of more than 170 titles. What’s more, it offers many free-to-play games as well, including the infamous Destiny 2!
In our testing, Stadia gave us a quite consistent graphic performance, with frame rates firmly over 40fps even in the most demanding games like Cyberpunk 2077.
What’s more enticing is the fact that you don’t even need to manually update any of your games! All of the maintenance is done on Google’s server, automatically.
What’s the catch, you ask?
The game library!
Don’t get me wrong, the selection of in-built games is awesome. But, where Stadia disappoints is its support for third-party gaming platforms like Steam and Epic Games. You can’t access any of the games that you might have on these platforms, unfortunately.
I feel that the free version of Google Stadia will be just about enough for anyone. But if you’re willing to splurge a premium of $9.99/month, you do get access to Stadia Pro, with more features and 27 instant-access games!
Ever rented out a self-driving car? That’s exactly what it’s like to use Shadow! Except for the fact that you’ll be controlling a very powerful Windows PC instead!
Using Shadow, you’ll be able to access and control a cloud-server-based Windows 10 PC directly from your Android Smartphone. Think of it as a seamless and high-specced Windows simulator.
And since you are controlling a full-on PC, there are no restrictions on your game library. You can buy or access a multitude of games from anywhere – like Steam, Ubisoft, and Epic Games.
Out of all the Cloud Gaming services we tried out, Shadow topped out the performance rankings. And why wouldn’t it? Even though remotely, it is a brawny machine that you’re controlling!
So obviously, the gaming specs are top of the line. You can expect up to 4k resolution at 60fps, with no lag or dropped frames. Although, the exact performance will depend on your subscription plan.
All in all, if you know your way around a PC, well, Shadow is the one for you!
But if you’re not too interested in dealing with the probable mess of a Windows PC, like the software updates and GPU updates, you might be better off with the other options on our list!
Looking for a simple to use Cloud Gaming application? Netboom comes to the rescue!
Netboom gives you full access to a huge collection of high-end games, without even the need for a computer. All you need is the Netboom app and a good internet connection.
Using Netboom, you can play your favorite PC games directly on your Android Smartphone. All the games are built-in to the app through cloud access, so you don’t even have to download and install the titles!
To take things further, you don’t even need to update your games. Netboom does all the heavy lifting for you. Just open your favorite title, and start gaming!
Though top-tier specs like 4k resolution and 60fps are technically offered, we found that 1080p is the ideal resolution to use. Anything beyond that, you’ll notice frequent frame drops and have an overall very laggy experience.
Although Netboom isn’t free to use, we feel that their payment scheme is one of the best. You’ll only be paying for the exact duration that you used the app. Not a penny less, and not a penny more!
Since there isn’t much customization that you can do, Netboom is the most ideal platform for you if you want a truly hassle-free experience. Just sit-and-play!
If you’re reading this article, there’s a pretty good chance that you have used, or at least heard of Steam!
Well, Steam Link is the app for you if you already use Steam on your PC. It connects to your Steam account wirelessly and will give you access to your entire game library directly on your smartphone.
Since it is essentially acting as a screen-mirroring app from your Steam account, you’ll have a flawless experience in your games. In our brief testing, we were able to extract excellent performance out of Steam Link.
The game resolution was constantly top-notch, touching peaks of around 1440p! The frame rate was rather smooth, with almost no recognizable lag.
One thing that we did realize is that both the PC and Smartphone need to be connected either to a 5Ghz internet connection or a wired Ethernet connection. Although you can still play with both devices connected to a 2.4Ghz network, the experience will be quite laggy, bordering on unplayable.
But when you do use a 5Ghz network, the performance is just impeccable. You’ll love the seamless connectivity between your PC and smartphone, giving you one of the most pleasurable Cloud Gaming experiences!
Steam being a free app, I recommend it to anyone with a PC and a Steam library!
Vortex is one of my favorite apps for Cloud Gaming, at the moment. You don’t even need to have a computer or a console to use Vortex. All you need is your Android smartphone!
All the processing and the heavy lifting happen remotely on a cloud server. So you don’t even need to have a high-end smartphone. Any smartphone running Android 5.0 or higher will be able to act as a remote display.
Using Vortex, you will be able to game at HD resolution comfortably. In my long-term usage, I’ve been able to get consistent frame rates of around 60fps even on top-tier games like GTA V and Destiny!
Speaking of, though Vortex can be accessed only through a subscription, even the basic plan of $9.99 is more than enough for most. The basic plan offers even the most popular titles like Fornite and GTA V. It contains close to 80 games right now, but the game library is growing every day!
There are a few caveats, though! You need to have a Bluetooth controller to play the games. Though touch interaction is supported in the Home UI, it just won’t work in the games.
Also, just like our previous contender, Vortex runs the smoothest when your android smartphone is connected to a 5Ghz internet connection.
My personal favorite attribute of Vortex is that all the downloads occur on the server. Fortunately, this spares my disk space on my already crammed smartphone!
Ultimately, if you’re looking for a powerful and easy-to-use application, go no further! Vortex Cloud Gaming is for you!
Xbox Game Streaming has been around for a while now. But with the recent overhaul, Microsoft has added the Cloud Gaming functionality directly into the app!
Using Xbox Game Streaming, or xCloud in short, you can access a plethora of high-end games directly from your smartphone. Over 100 titles including many Xbox exclusive titles like Forza Horizon 4 are offered in this enticing package.
What’s more appealing is that you’ll be able to access a multitude of directly streamable games, without even downloading them!
However, I should point out that this service isn’t free. You need to have an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate membership ($15/month) to get access to all of these features.
In our experience, the gameplay on xCloud has been smooth and rather responsive. But I feel that the resolution could be better, considering that most of the games on xCloud are top-tier titles. Consistently delivering resolutions of 720p at 60fps, the graphic quality left something to be desired!
While the games that are optimized for xCloud run seamlessly, the ones that aren’t, tend to stutter sometimes.
All in all, xCloud is preferable if you already own an Xbox or a PC with Game Pass. But if you’re looking for a standalone gaming platform, this isn’t the one for you.
Saving the best for last!
NVIDIA doesn’t need an introduction. It is the world’s foremost pioneer in gaming right now and has been so for quite a while.
Well, what’s it like when a Gaming-Tech Giant steps into Cloud Gaming?
NVIDIA’s Cloud Gaming service GeForce Now is undeniably in a league of its own. Offering features and specs that no other app is offering, GeForce Now is arguably the best Cloud Gaming app in the market.
With a collection of more than 80 free games, GeForce now offers one of the largest free-to-play game libraries in the world! Furthermore, you can access more than 800 titles from connected accounts like Ubisoft Connect and Steam.
GeForce Now comes in both a Free Version and a Pro Version ($9.99/month). Although you only get a 1-hour play session with the free version, you can upgrade to the Pro version for 6 hours of unlimited access, and more features!
Moving on to performance, I can’t put this in any other way: NVIDIA GeForce Now is a BEAST!
Games run with suave, at HD resolution and a constant frame rate of 60fps. And this isn’t even the best part.
GeForce Now lets you play all your games with Ray Tracing turned on!
And what’s more? I hope you’re ready for this!
Yes, you’ll be able to enable RTX for all of your supported games. This will significantly improve the graphic quality, and give you an unbelievable experience.
Now, with all of these features, this is evidently my top recommendation if you’re really interested in Cloud Gaming, and wish to have the best of the best!
Though Cloud Gaming is a relatively new realm of gaming, there are a handful number of good options for you to choose from. In this article, we have reviewed the best Cloud Gaming applications in the market right now.
While all of the above apps are superb, we do have our favorite picks!
Our personal Top 3 are:
Nvidia GeForce Now – For its high-end technical capabilities.
Shadow – For the utter freedom of accessing all the game libraries instantly.
Steam Link – For its ease of use and robust performance.
That’s it for this one, folks!