Cloud game streaming could be the next big thing in the video game industry. Large tech companies believe that consumers are ready to ditch gaming PCs that need to be constantly updated and perhaps even dedicated game consoles. The appeal of game streaming is understandable, as it allows you to scale up as games get more demanding without purchasing new hardware.
It’s too early to tell if game streaming really will change the face of the industry, but we’ll probably find out when Google Stadia and Microsoft’s Project xCloud arrive later this year. In the meantime, two streaming services are already out in front of the competition: Nvidia GeForce Now and Blade’s Shadow. So the question is: Which service wins in the Nvidia GeForce Now vs. Shadow battle?
We examined their strengths and weaknesses across a number of categories. While it’s probably wise to wait for other competitors to come to market before you jump aboard the game streaming train,
Platform support is a key factor in deciding which streaming service to go with.
Shadow wins the platform battle, as it lets you stream on PC, Mac, Android, iOS, and
- PC: Windows 7/8.1/10 (32 or 64-bit)
- Mac: macOS 10.10 or later
- Android: 7.0 Nougat or later
- iPhone/iPad: iOS 11.0 or later
- Ubuntu 18.04
Shadow also has an optional piece of hardware, the Shadow Ghost, that lets you stream on your TV. Shadow Ghost costs $150 and comes equipped with two USB ports, an Ethernet jack, an HDMI port, 3.5mm audio jack, Wi-Fi access, and Bluetooth 4.1.
Another important component in deciding which streaming service to use is control methods. Shadow and
When playing on PC and Mac with either service, you can use Xbox One, PS4, and wired USB controllers. Basically, any controller you can get to work with your computer will work here. You can also use a mouse and keyboard if you’d like. With Android and iOS on Shadow, you can use controllers that are compatible with your devices.
Next up is the quality of the stream. This is almost undoubtedly the most important aspect to consider. Streaming services will live and die on stream quality. No one will want to pay for streaming services that regularly underperform or offer subpar experiences across the board.
As both Shadow and GeForce Now are available now in differing capacities, we already know how they fare. Each is well-regarded in terms of latency and input lag. Both streaming services do the heavy lifting at data centers, allowing you to play at high settings without owning a high-end PC. But the upper threshold of qualities picture qualities differs between the two services.
Shadow tops out at 4K and 60 frames per second and 60Hz. Running in 1080p, you can get 60fps and a 144Hz refresh rate. Shadow has been optimized to run games at these benchmarks with a home internet connection speed of 15 Mbps.
It’s important to note that Shadow has officially been released, whereas
Since modern cloud streaming is still in its infancy, neither of these services are perfect. A quick Google search for each service brings up praises from some users and complaints from others. Your experience could very well vary widely, with regards to framerate and overall performance.
Shadow works a bit differently. You still have to own the games, but the library isn’t restricted to a set list of games. With Shadow, you gain access to a high-powered Windows 10 computer. In fact, when you first start it up, you set up Windows as usual.
Shadow’s feature set is probably the most unique and customizable of all streaming services both available today and on the horizon. That’s because it’s more of a cloud computing service with a gaming bent than a strict game streaming service. As mentioned, you gain access to a high-end
The downside of gaining access to a Virtual Machine is that you have to actually download the games, and you only get 256GB of storage. This won’t hold many AAA games at once. However, Shadow’s virtual machine gets blazing fast 1GB/s download speeds, so deleting and downloading new games won’t take long at all. Shadow has apps for each platform that are used to access the cloud computing service.
Pricing and availability
Shadow has two payment models. If you sign up for an annual plan, your monthly cost is $25/month ($300/year). If you go month-to-month, that rate balloons to $35/month ($420/year). Before you lock into a plan, you can try Shadow for ten days for $10. Shadow is currently available in 38 states across the country and will eventually be available nationwide.
In early 2020, there will be more ways to become a Shadow subscriber, with three tiered plans each offering their own hardware. The base plan called Boost is comparable to what Shadow includes now, with the top two featuring more impressive specifications:
- Boost plan: Nvidia GTX 1080 GPU with 3.4GHZ four-core CPU, 12GB RAM and 256GB storage
- Ultra plan: Nvidia RTX 2080 GPU with 4GHZ four-core CPU, 16GB RAM and 512GB storage
- Infinite plan: Nvidia Titan RTX GPU with 4GHZ six-four CPU, 32GB RAM and 1TB storage
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