There are plenty of excellent games available for mobile, but as technology advances, we no longer have to limit ourselves to what we can download from the App Store and Google Play. Why? Because gaming through the cloud has improved massively over the past few years, to the point that you can enjoy AAA titles on your phone with little issue, so long as you have a decent internet connection.
Personally, I spend most of my day at a desk, so when the evening comes, the last place I want to game is in front of the computer screen. So, it’s nice to be able to grab my phone, connect my Kishi V2 controller and play some games while lying in bed or lazing about on the sofa. As 5G becomes more widespread, the number of places you can enjoy cloud gaming will increase, meaning playing Halo Infinite on your commute is a possibility and already a reality for some.
So today, we’re going to discuss three cloud gaming options for mobile and all the caveats you will need to bear in mind. Whichever route you decide to go down, remember to bring a controller along for the ride for the best experience. Most of the games you can enjoy over the cloud are available on console, so it just makes sense to hook up to get the most out of your session.
Xbox Game Pass
Though it’s technically still in beta, Microsoft’s entry into the cloud gaming realm already works pretty reliably. I have a penchant for indie games, so I’ve spent many hours playing the likes of Hollow Knight, Mortal Shell and Death’s Door through xCloud. They all work great with the Razer Kishi V2 as well. All I had to do was plug it in and enjoy.
If you are an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscriber, you can play the games on the subscription service right from your phone. The feature works on iOS and Android, though with iOS, you will access Xbox Game Pass through your browser, while you can use the Xbox Game Pass app on Android.
If you’re an Android user, your device will need Android 6.0 or newer, while Apple owners will want iOS 14.4 or later. On top of that, your internet speed should be at least 10Mb/s on mobile and 20 on an iPad. And, of course, you will need to be an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscriber, which costs £10.99.
Once you’re up and running, you can enjoy Xbox Game Pass’ 300-plus titles right on your phone. The service is regularly updated with the latest games, though other titles will depart the service from time to time. So it’s worth playing the games you’re interested in as soon as possible, just in case they disappear in the future. However, you don’t have to worry about first-party games. They’re unlikely to go anywhere.
Nvidia’s GeForce Now is one of the older cloud gaming services available. It first launched in 2013 as Nvidia Grid and eventually changed its name to GeForce Now. Unlike Xbox Game Pass, you will need to own the games you wish to play on Steam, the Epic Game Store or Ubisoft Connect, with support for different games added each week.
Naturally, that means the subscription model is different. Instead of paying to access a library of games, your monthly fee can get you priority access to premium servers, ray tracing, and a 6-hour session length, among other things. That’s the Priority membership, which costs £8.99 a month. But if you want to shell out more, you can opt for the RTX 3080 tier, which offers an 8-hour session and higher frame rate and resolution options.
That’s all the fine print. But is GeForce Now a good cloud gaming service? Based on the time I’ve spent with it, the answer is yes. I previously tested several AAA games, such as Control, Watch Dogs: Legion and Metro Exodus. I had all the fancy graphics settings dialled up and switched on, including ray tracing, and it ran without a hitch, with only the occasional drop in framerate. Playing it with a controller didn’t present an issue, either. I simply connected my Razer Kishi and was good to go.
But, if you’re not sold on GeForce Now, you don’t have to spend a penny to try it. There is a Free tier that grants access to the standard servers. It is worth noting that your session is limited to one hour, but it’s a great way to determine if it’s for you.
Blacknut offers a similar service to Xbox Game Pass, just with a less recognisable name. For £12.99 per month, you can play over 500 games on whichever device you like, including iOS and Android. And, since your saves get stored on the cloud, you can freely swap between devices and pick up where you left off with your current save.
New games get added monthly, and you can check out what’s available on Blacknut’s official website. The service also offers the option to create up to five separate accounts and to put parental controls in place if you’re planning to allow your children to share your subscription. The only caveat, in my opinion, is that the game library Blacknut offers isn’t as strong as Xbox Game Pass, though that could change over time.