The latest generation of game consoles will arrive this month, but may also be the last. Because why would you spend a few hundred euros for another device in your room when you can also stream ‘normal’ games? What do you need for that?
Now that Microsoft is launching the Xbox Series X these days and Sony is striking back with the PlayStation 5, the old-fashioned arms race between the two arch rivals seems to be in full swing again for the favor of the consumer. The successors to the Xbox and PS4 are very advanced devices with a price tag that starts at three hundred euros and goes up to five hundred.
With the knowledge that December is already an expensive month by nature and that the economic outlook for next year may require additional thrift, the question is whether there is no cheaper alternative. And there is: just no game console in the house, but still play games by streaming them.
Because if you can get series, films and music to you via the internet, you can do that with video games too. Just as Netflix was the death knell for the DVD player and Spotify sealed the fate of the CD cabinet, the game streaming services herald the end of the game console as a device that hangs on the TV. That game could just as easily run somewhere else, perhaps hundreds of kilometers away, on a large server. That means an end to long downloads and interim updates, because it is ‘just’ ready to play.
What do you need to stream games? Internet, we know. But Netflix can still be quite ‘tolerant’ and a music service can unnoticeably reduce the quality a bit when the line is busy, as streaming games requires a continuously fast and solid internet connection. If you don’t have one, the audio stutters, the image stutters or precious milliseconds are lost between pressing a button and the desired action on the screen. Exactly what guarantees a ‘game over’.
If you have fiber optics or the coolest internet subscription, you don’t have to worry about that. Unfortunately, providers cannot deliver that to every address. To stream a game you need a minimum speed of 10 megabits per second. If you want to play the same game in the high 4K resolution and with all the surround horns and bells, the bar is quickly set at 35 Mbps.
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You also need a screen of course. With Game Pass Ultimate, that is the screen of an Android phone or tablet. Apple will hold off the game cloud boot for now. With Stadia from Google you can also play on your TV, provided you have a Google Chromecast in it. You can also use the tab of your own Chrome internet browser, for example on the laptop.
There is little credit to be gained without a controller. Those who play via Google Stadia may want to purchase the special Stadia controller. It connects directly to the server via Wi-Fi, so that the delay in response ( input lag ) remains the smallest.
If you play with Game Pass, you can buy the special attachment from Moga for less than twenty euros, with which you clamp the phone to the Xbox controller. But none of that is necessary: that old PlayStation, Xbox or other Bluetooth USB controller works fine in most cases.