If you don't live under a rock, you may have heard stories about gaming hardware of all kinds becoming a hot commodity in COVID times. You might not find this post useful if you haven't really been a victim of such issues. This is not just referring to consoles; but also PC hardware (and even sometimes the Switch, a console that's not even new). It's no surprise that if you want the latest GTX 3070 graphics card, you'll have to wait, but we're now finding surprises where scalpers are buying up even inventory of the last generation GTX 20xx to drive up demand.
To reiterate a common statement, do not reward scalping. Let their supply go unbought. That said, it's easy to say that to people when you have gaming hardware yourself – and don't have to sit and watch as your friends all group up for co-op sessions of Assassin's Souls: Black Ops of War.
Most people who can't find a reasonably priced console or graphics card are resolved to get one in the future when they're back at MSRP, but for people who don't currently have good hardware (and/or something has broken) this presents a short-term issue. This might actually be the kind of thing that Cloud Gaming is good for.
I've been a proponent of the subject in part because it requires low investment. You don't need to be a devotee of cloud gaming systems to get some benefit from them. The "$60 for one game we promise will work forever" idea behind Google Stadia is not the only option, and for people who plan to go back to hardware-based gaming in the future, but want to access games in the meantime, there's a few options:
Geforce Now is valued for providing access to Steam, UPlay, and some GOG games through a person's existing accounts. One-hour sessions are completely free, making it easier to try (and perhaps verify whether other cloud services will even work on your ISP – never a certain subject). It's my recommendation for people who are planning to go back to PC gaming later, since the cloud saves will synchronize with your local copies. And yes, they do plan to support Cyberpunk on launch – good news for people who found its system requirements above what they have set up.
Stadia has its $60 options, or can be used in an exploratory, subscription manner by trialling a pro subscription, giving a model more similar to Game Pass or PS+. But, it has no save synchronization – so it's only a "safe" investment for games you don't intend to replay after your subscription, like story-based ventures.
Amazon Luna is also from a company that doesn't know anything about gaming, but they seem to be more focused on subscription-based offering than Google, and has some decently high-profile games on it. Again, no plans for their saves to synchronize elsewhere, so this may only really be an option for people who are just going to start and finish games there during their subscription.
Game Pass is really a holistic setup of Xbox and PC games; but has recently added a beta feature for streaming their Xbox games onto Android devices (with future iOS and Windows support). It's the only one of these I've never tried (no Android phone). Since it only really works with phones that have a controller connected, it's not something I'd recommend just for that.
PlayStation Now tends to be cheap-ish for a full-year subscription, with occasional deals popping up. If you've been planning to get a PS5, this may make sense for the meantime so that saves synchronize there; but you may even be a generally PC-based gamer that goes for it for pure value of game selection. Only problem is, while it was the first to offer streaming, varied opinions say it's not the best at it compared to more recent offerings.
Generally, I don't expect any of these services to replace local gaming in the long term given issues like artifacting and bandwidth usage, but while unique circumstances of scalping and COVID have affected people, I actually think it makes for a very plausible stopgap. Stadia and Luna have the issue there that they are the only place to play their particular games, while the others can at least continue a save game later on local hardware (excepting old-gen games in PS Now).
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