Sony has led the way. The electronics company has been operating a cloud gaming service for its game consoles since 2014. Microsoft followed suit a few years later with Xbox Game Pass. Now Google, Netflix and Facebook are also venturing into the gaming industry.

Thanks to increasingly powerful Internet connections, new opportunities are opening up for many companies. The cloud gaming industry in particular is booming. Gamers can download and play increasingly high-quality games almost anywhere.

The development has even gone so far that Sony and Microsoft are now offering consoles with the Playstation 5 and the Xbox Series, some of which do not even require a drive at all. But new possibilities are also opening up on smartphones, PCs and TVs.

What do you need for cloud gaming?

The requirements for cloud gaming vary. However, you usually have to create an account with the respective provider.

A simple gamepad, smartphone or mouse and keyboard are often sufficient for gaming. Only Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming and Sony’s Playstation Now require a special controller.

However, not every game can be streamed on every device. For example, Playstation Now requires a Windows PC, a Playstation 4 or 5. The service is not available on smartphones or Apple devices.

In contrast, the Geforce Now and Xbox Cloud Gaming services are much more flexible and work on almost all devices.

The challenger in cloud gaming: Google Stadia

Numerous hardware and software manufacturers have recognized the trend in cloud gaming. Many companies rather outside the industry are now following suit.

Google has already presented its own gaming service Stadia in 2019. However, the great ambitions have so far fallen short of expectations. But that is set to change soon.

According to reports, Google wants to build one of the best platforms for gamers. As in many other companies, the tech company sees streaming games via cloud as the future of the gaming industry.

Therefore, in order to create greater incentives, Google has adjusted the distribution of its revenue. From October 2021, 85 percent of revenues are to go to game developers.

New subscription model: Google Stadia Pro and Xbox Game Pass

After only individual titles could be purchased at Google Stadia in the beginning, the company now also offers a subscription model.

Similar to the video streaming models of Netflix and others, users of Google Stadia Pro have a certain quota of games at their disposal, which is expanded monthly. Since June 2021, the service has also been available via Chromecast on Google TV and selected Android TV devices.

Microsoft also offers gamers a subscription model for video games with Xbox Game Pass. For a maximum of 12.99 euros per month, users have access to over 100 games, including all games from the EA Play program. In addition to a Microsoft account, Game Pass requires an Xbox console or a Windows PC, depending on the game.

Cloud gaming: What are Facebook, Netflix and others planning?

Critics view the development in terms of gaming subscriptions skeptically. The industry could suffer a fate similar to that of the music industry. After all, streaming models like Spotify have led to significant drops in sales.

But with Facebook and Netflix, two other big players are already pushing into the gaming industry. For example, Facebook recently integrated a cloud gaming service within its iOS app.

A placement in the App Store, however, failed due to Apple’s regulations. Unlike the competition, however, Facebook’s plans still seem somewhat immature.

Free offer at the start

Netflix, on the other hand, seems to be pursuing more ambitious goals in terms of cloud gaming. According to reports, the streaming service has hired video game developer Mike Verdu to gain a foothold in the gaming industry. If Netflix has its way, the first games will be available to subscribers as early as 2022, initially at no additional cost.

The focus will probably be on mobile games, which will be available on smartphones and tablets. Integration for smart TVs is also a possibility, but has not yet been officially confirmed.