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The best game-streaming services for 2023

Streaming is the newest way we consume media, and while it has caught on across film, TV, and music, it still has some catching up to do in the video game space. Still, there are some video game streaming services that have made significant strides toward ubiquity such as Xbox Game Pass, PS Plus, and even some on PC. Other services like Google Stadia haven’t garnered the same amount of success, failing to capture an audience before eventually shuttering.

While there certainly are fewer popular game streaming services than before, there’s a handful you’ll want to be aware of depending on what you’re looking for. With that in mind, these are the best video game streaming services for 2023.

Xbox Game Pass (Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC*)

Xbox Game Pass Walkthrough

The other services on our list rely on streaming technology to deliver your games, but Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass works a little differently. For $10 per month, a subscription to Xbox Game Pass gives you access to more than 100 games, and you download them onto your Xbox One or Xbox Series X/S storage device just like you would with any other digital title.

This means you don’t have to worry about your internet speed affecting the quality of your gaming experience, and even if you lose your connection, you’ll still be able to play games, so long as you remain a member.

And the games — the games. Xbox Game Pass has perhaps the best library of any service on this list. From Halo: The Master Chief Collection to Gears 5, Forza Horizon 5, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, and Yakuza Like a Dragon, Xbox Game Pass has plenty of incredible games to enjoy. The service isn’t limited to Microsoft-published games, either, with a variety of third-party games also available.

The kicker, however, is Microsoft’s policy for future Xbox exclusives. All first-party Microsoft games are included with an Xbox Game Pass subscription at no extra charge on launch day. That means games like Forza Motorsport, Starfield, Redfall, and Stalker 2: Heart of Chornobyl will all be available on day one at no additional cost.

*Only Xbox Play Anywhere games are also available on PC through Xbox Game Pass.

PlayStation Plus (PS4, PS5, PC)

PlayStation Now - New Games August 2020

Formerly known as PS Now, Sony has folded its streaming and subscription-based game library into its successful PS Plus platform. This makes it far more approachable, not just from a cost perspective, but in terms of the user experience as well.

Sony has some of the best first-party video games around, but you previously needed to own one of the company’s consoles to be able to play them. With the new PlayStation Plus, you can play a wide variety of exclusive PlayStation games from your PC, as well as PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 consoles.

On PC, all you need is a DualShock 4 controller with either a wireless adapter or USB mini cable (or a DualSense controller), as well as a PlayStation Network account and at least 5Mbps of internet download speed. PS4 and PS5 users need the same internet speed on their game console, and with either a seven-day free trial or a paid subscription, you’re ready to play some of the best PlayStation exclusives. For PS4 and PS5 players, a PlayStation Plus subscription includes full access to multiplayer support, along with plenty of other perks. Your save files will be compatible with PC, PS5, and PS4.

The service added a feature included with Xbox Game Pass that give you the ability to download games and play them directly on your system. More than 300 PlayStation games are eligible for download and support DLC and other features you would get in the standard digital versions.

PlayStation Plus features some older PlayStation exclusives, including the first three Uncharted games, Killzone: Shadow Fall, The Last of Us, Until Dawn, God of War III: Remastered, and Bloodborne. The service also supports a number of third-party games, such as Dishonored, the Batman: Arkham games, the BioShock trilogy, and Saints Row IV.

New games are added every month, and the full catalog includes more than 700 titles. PlayStation Plus comes in the form of three different tiers: PS Plus Essential ($10 per month), PS Plus Extra ($15 per month), and PS Plus Premium ($18 per month). Each of these tiers offers various perks you’ll want to be aware of when diving into the service. For instance, the Essential membership simply gives you access to online play and two monthly downloadable games, Extra grants access to a catalog of 400-plus PlayStation games, while Premium gives you older games in addition to the perks from the lower tiers.

While PS Plus still takes a back seat to Xbox Game Pass, it’s nice to see Sony making strides to improve its service.

GeForce Now (PC, Mac, Nvidia Shield)

NVIDIA GeForce NOW CES - PC Beta Now Available

Own a Mac, Nvidia Shield, or a low-end PC, but want to play the latest AAA games? With GeForce Now, you can play the latest and greatest from major publishers without having to worry about your computer catching fire or, worse, running Bootcamp.

The following support GeForce Now:

  • MacOS PC
  • Window PC
  • Chrome OS
  • Shield
  • Browser
  • Android
  • iOS Safari
  • Android TV
  • LG TV

GeForce Now is not a content service like many of the other services on our list. You have to purchase the games you want to play through a digital store, such as Steam, Epic Games Store, or Blizzard’s Battle.net. Once you’ve installed the app on your machine, GeForce’s cloud-based processors will allow you to run the game on any device, independent of their specs.

The service requires a higher internet download speed than you might expect — 15Mbps minimum and 25Mbps are recommended — and you must have MacOS 10.11 or higher or Windows 7 64-bit (though the latest version of Windows 10 is recommended) or later in order to run it.

Either an Ethernet connection or a Wi-Fi connection using a 5GHz router is required, and you can use either a mouse-and-keyboard setup or one of several gamepads. Sessions are capped at between six and eight (depending on membership) hours per player before you have to start a new one. This is to keep the servers available for other players.

GeForce now is compatible with a huge assortment of games, though you do have to buy them to use them with the service. The list includes Fortnite, Cyberpunk 2077, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Apex Legends, Control, and No Man’s Sky to name a few. GeForce Now has exited beta testing and is available in three different tiers.

The free version offers standard access with a one-hour play session cap. The $10-per-month Priority option gives priority access, extended six-hour sessions, and enables RTX. There’s also the Ultimate option that costs $20 per month, and offers all the benefits of the Priority version, but adds longer eight-hour play sessions, 4K resolution, and up to 120 frames per second (fps).

Xbox Cloud Gaming

Play 100+ Xbox console games on PC, iPhone, and iPad

GeForce Now isn’t the only service that lets you play console-quality games regardless of your location. Microsoft first unveiled its Project xCloud (now known as Xbox Cloud Gaming) service in 2018, and it aims to eliminate the hardware barrier between its library of games and potential players.

Using Microsoft’s 54 Azure data centers, Xbox Cloud Gaming allows users to stream games originally made for Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC on their device of choice. Everything — including Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PC, mobile phones, and tablets — is supported, and you are able to access your games wherever you have a network connection. You can use your own Xbox console as a server through Xbox Cloud Gaming without having to pay at all.

Unlike Stadia, which tied your controller via a Wi-Fi connection, Xbox Cloud Gaming does so via Bluetooth, which theoretically will lead to lower latency during gameplay. Xbox One and Series X controllers made after 2016 will be supported on your device of choice, and you will also have access to custom touch control interfaces when gaming on a mobile device.

More than 100 titles are available to stream on an Android phone or tablet, PC, or Xbox console. You can also use it on a Smart TV through the Game Pass app. And as of 2021, Microsoft announced that Xbox Cloud Gaming will run on Xbox Series X hardware, leading to 1080p resolution at up to 60 fps.

Since Xbox Cloud Gaming is built on the same backbone as Xbox Live Gold and the Xbox Play Anywhere program, it supports cross-platform cloud save data. This means that if you are playing a game on your Xbox One or Xbox Series X and need to leave, you can pick up your mobile device and resume your progress.

The coolest thing about Xbox Cloud Gaming is that it will tie to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which costs $15 a month, and gives you access to all the benefits of Xbox Game Pass and Games With Gold (as well as a Gold subscription to play online with others). So, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers will gain access to Xbox Cloud Gaming at no additional cost — and it’s something Microsoft is aiming to be as ubiquitous as possible, regardless of if you own an Xbox console or not. Microsoft wants there to be fewer boundaries, giving players access to games without needing to fork over hundreds of dollars on a console.

Amazon Luna

Introducing Amazon Luna – For the Love of Play

It seems many companies are trying the gaming subscription business model. In 2020, Amazon launched its own gaming subscription service called Luna, which allows users to stream games from the cloud. Today, Amazon Luna offers around 100 games, many of which are published by Ubisoft, such as Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Watch Dogs: Legion, Immortals Fenyx Rising, and Far Cry 6.

Amazon Luna has a few different price points for various subscriptions usable on Windows PC, Mac, Fire TV, iPhone, iPad, and select Android devices. You can play games on the service with a dedicated Amazon Luna controller or any compatible gamepad, such as an Xbox controller, DualShock 4, DualSense, or even a mouse and keyboard.

You’ll need an internet connection speed of at least 10Mbps to stream games at 1080p or 35Mbps to stream games at 4K. However, the company has implemented an option for 720p, which has a lower internet speed requirement. Therein lies the issue with many streaming services. The premise sounds appealing, but to effectively play many modern games at high resolutions, internet speeds need to be fast, which isn’t a viable option in many areas, even in the U.S.

In terms of price point, there are multiple options, but Luna works differently from other services mentioned so far. There’s Luna+ for $10 per month, which includes a wide variety of modern games; Ubisoft+ for $18 per month, featuring only Ubisoft games; Jackbox Games for $5 per month, featuring a collection of party games; and Prime Gaming, included with Amazon Prime memberships. Check the landing page to see which plan is right for you.

Nintendo Switch Online

Nintendo Switch Online - Overview Trailer - Nintendo Switch

Finally, let’s briefly touch on Nintendo Switch Online. This isn’t technically a streaming service, but the premise is similar enough to Xbox Game Pass and PS Plus that it’s worth mentioning. For $20 per year (or $50 per year for the Expansion Pack), Nintendo Switch Online subscribers gain access to online play for Switch games, just like Xbox Live. But beyond that, Nintendo grants subscribers an ever-expanding library of NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, and N64 games, some of which have been updated to include online play.

While the list of playable games is arguably lackluster, the fact that it’s so much less expensive than its competitors make sit an easier pill to swallow. At the end of 2021, Nintendo announced Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack, giving players access to a list of N64 and Sega Genesis games, along with Nintendo Switch DLC expansions for $50 per year. This was a welcome inclusion, though many believed its price was too expensive. Still, it’s a good deal if you’re someone who likes to play Nintendo Switch DLC such as the Animal Crossing: New Horizons Happy Home Paradise, or the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Pack.

Joseph Yaden

Joseph Yaden is a freelance journalist who covers Nintendo, shooters, and horror games. He mostly covers game guides for Digital Trends, but can also be found writing for Inverse. When he's not writing about video games he can usually be found petting his cats and listening to some Progressive Metal. He thinks Meshuggah is tight. Twitter: @JosephYaden

Gabe Gurwin
Former Digital Trends Contributor

Gabe Gurwin has been playing games since 1997, beginning with the N64 and the Super Nintendo. He began his journalism career back in 2010 while still in high school, and subsequently graduated summa cum laude from Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism in 2016.

In addition to video games, Gabe has also covered television, film, and music, and he has done everything from news to reviews and video work. You can follow him on Twitter @GamingAngelGabe.

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