State of Streaming - Feb 2021

A comparison of game streaming services

Posted by Sam Bartle on 08 Feb 2021

Background

I recently had surgery and as part of the recovery I have to spend quite a bit of time in bed, meaning no access to my xbox (downstairs) or my gaming PC (in a different room), this seemed like the ideal time for my multiple game streaming services and platforms to shine.. Lets just say some did, and some not so much.

Services

I have the following game streaming options available to me in my bedroom..

  • Google Stadia via Chromecast Ultra on my 4K Android Smart TV

  • Google Stadia via Sideloaded App on my 4K Android Smart TV (Not Officially Supported)

  • Google Stadia in Chrome on my Full HD Laptop/Tablet

  • Google Stadia via my Google Pixel 3 Mobile Phone

  • Steam In Home Streaming via my Gaming PC and Steam Link Hardware on the TV

  • Steam In Home Streaming via my Gaming PC and the Steam Link App on a 4K Android Smart TV

  • Steam In Home Streaming via my Gaming PC and the Steam Link App in my Google Pixel 3 Mobile Phone

  • Steam In Home Streaming via my Gaming PC and the Steam Application on my Laptop

  • Geforce Now via the Geforce Now app on my Smart TV

  • Geforce Now via the Geforce Now app on my Google Pixel 3 Mobile Phone

  • Geforce In Home Streaming via my Gaming PC and the Moonlight Android App on my Smart TV (Not Officially Supported)

  • Geforce In Home Streaming via my Gaming PC and the Moonlight Android App on my Google Pixel 3 Mobile Phone (Not Officially Supported)

  • XBOX One Streaming via In Home Streaming to the Windows 10 XBOX Companion App on my Tablet/Laptop

  • Project XCloud Streaming from Microsoft to the Game Streaming App on my Mobile Phone

  • Project XCloud Streaming to the Sideloaded Game Streaming App on my Android Smart TV (Not Officially Supported)

I realise that's a lot of choice.. and yeah it probably is too much, but hey, I've got them why not use em.. Im a Day 1 Google Stadia Pro subscriber, and I have a founders Geforce Now Membership which came with my RTX 3070 purchase, though I was already a subscriber before I bought that. I bought 2 Steam Links and have the controllers to go with them. (I was also a subscriber to Onlive the original Cloud Gaming Service for years)

I have ethernet and fast WiFi 6 available to me, and my internet connection is a Virgin Media 350mbps fibre link.

Geforce Now

Pros

  • Games are reasonably priced, since you can buy them fro Steam, Epic or Ubi Stores.. The games will still be there if the service shuts down as well which is a huge plus.
  • Theres a good selection of games since you are just streaming game sfro other large stores.

    Cons

  • The keyboard for Epic Games, Steam and Ubisoft Signins are all different. Sometimes they appear automatically, sometimes they dont, sometimes you need a mouse/keyboard attached, or to use the fake-mouse emulation.
  • You regularly get signed out of all three services an have to login again. The sign in process is not optimised for the TV/Touch inputs.. its designed only for keyboard and mouse. It doesnt work with the built in hardware keyboard on the back of my smart TV remote despite this inputting using the standard android keyboard API.
  • Voice search doesnt use the microphone on my remote, despite it working elsewhere in android.
  • Often when starting a game you instead end up in the steam big picture UI, with no indication that anything is loading. Most of the time they game loads, but sometimes not.
  • Often you see the GPU setup or other startup options for the game and its unclear if you shoudl click something or just wait.
  • Theres no way to scan your steam, epic or ubi libaries and get all supported games added to your library in GFN.. you have to search for games 1 by one and manually add them.
  • Cloud saves often work, but not always.
  • If a dialog (such as the Epic games confirm cloud saves dialog) appears, you cant respond to it with a gamepad, and have to switch to mouse emulation mode.
  • You can start a game that you dont own, and then it gets added to your library
  • You have to pick not just the right game, but also the right store that you own it on to add it or play it.

Google Stadia

Pros

  • It Just works. This cannot be overstated, compared to just abouth everything else on this list, stadia works perfectly.

    Cons

  • Limited Games and some very old ports being released at outrageous prices 4 years after they came out on competing platforms.
  • Games are very expensive, and you are locked into Stadia to play them. You also need that Pro subscription to get full quality or play allthe 'free' games you've acquired.
  • Pro subscription is very expensive for what you get. The 'free' games you claim aren't free and cannot be played if you stop subscribing to Pro.
  • Controller is not perfect, its close however the handles just dont quite feel angled correctly.

Steam In Home

XCloud Streaming