For better or for worse, gaming is no longer restricted by hardware. Almost any device, bet it a dedicated cloud gaming machine like Logitech G Cloud or a portable Android tablet, gives you access to some of the best-looking games. So long as you have a decent internet connection, that is.
With Stadia, Google also tried to capitalize on this growing market, and the potential for 4K support showed promise. However, coupled with the fact that many games asked for a full retail price, the $9.99 monthly subscription plan seemed redundant at best. As such, Google Stadia was off to a poor start that didn’t get much better over the last few years, which is why its metaphorical doors are closing on January 18th, 2023.
If you don’t want to give up on cloud gaming just yet, then the market is filled with plenty of options. Some of them are obvious, like Amazon Luna and the ever-expanding Xbox Cloud Gaming. Others, like Shadow, could well attract a more niche demographic of users. We’ve rounded up the best alternatives to Google Stadia, along with their distinguishing features.
If you’re looking for an alternative to Google Stadia with a rotation of games, look no further than Amazon Luna. For starters, Prime members can access an ever-changing selection of games at no additional cost.
Jump to a subscription at $9.99 per month; Luna+ provides access to more recent and sought-after titles like Resident Evil 2 and Medium.
Meanwhile, fans of classic games, such as Castlevania, Metal Slug, and Street Fighter 2 can enjoy streaming for as little as $4.99 per month for the Retro plan. Family and Jackbox subscriptions run $5.99 and $4.99, respectively, and cater to those looking for more family-friendly games.
Finally, if you’re ready to dish out an eye-watering $18.99 per month for Ubisoft+, you’ll get access to the most recent Ubisoft titles, including Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Far Cry 6.
Speaking of Ubisoft. One of the more deterring features of Google Stadia was the fact that you had to pay full retail prices for certain titles.
Luna might alleviate some of the sting that comes from losing them once Google’s service closes. If you purchased any Ubisoft titles on Stadia, then you can add them to your Luna library by linking it with Ubisoft Connect and play them at no additional cost as long as you’re a Prime subscriber.
There are plenty of reasons to try out Amazon Luna, including flexible subscription plans and expansive controller support. Much like Google’s Stadia, Luna offers its own proprietary low-latency controller for sale, but you can use a compatible PlayStation or Xbox controller just as well.
Furthermore, Luna runs on most devices, including PCs, Macs, and Chromebooks. At the moment, streaming performance tops out at 1080p 60 FPS, but it’s more than sufficient when playing on a portable device.
Nvidia GeForce Now
Founded in 2015, Nvidia GeForce Now is among the oldest surviving cloud streaming platforms. Unlike many other cloud streaming services, Nvidia GeForce Now doesn’t give you direct access to games. Instead, it gives you access to a powerful remote gaming rig.
Taking full advantage of the service costs $9.99 per month, which gives you priority access to 6-hour play sessions with a performance of up to 1080p at 60 FPS. At $19.99, you get exclusive access to the RTX 3080 gaming rig, as well as 8-hour session time at 4K and up to 120 FPS.
Surprisingly, Nvidia offers a free subscription plan, albeit with a huge caveat: 1-hour sessions and lengthy waiting times in the queue. But it’s a nice “try before you buy” option.
Once you’ve subscribed, Nvidia GeForce Now fetches games from game libraries like Epic Games and Steam and allows you to play them via the cloud. It could be an especially attractive service to anyone who doesn’t own a powerful gaming PC or simply wants to play their games remotely, on the phone, or a laptop.
Nvidia regularly expands the list of games available via the service. Some of the January additions include Watch Dogs Legion, Destroy All Humans, and Hello Neighbor 2, just to name a few.
Xbox Cloud Gaming
Over the last five years, Microsoft has built a strong presence with its selection of gaming services. Xbox Cloud Gaming comes included with an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription. In other words, you can access hundreds of Xbox and PC games and cloud streaming for just $14.99 per month.
With Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Bethesda and the pending acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the deal could get even sweeter. Imagine playing games like Doom, Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, and possibly even Call of Duty, on release day, via any device you like.
And we mean virtually any device. Xbox Cloud Gaming works across a vast range of devices, including Android and iOS phones, Steam Decks, and even Samsung TVs. The service also works with Chromebooks with support for 1080p gaming since November 2022.
Xbox Cloud Gaming supports an equally accessible list of first and third-party controllers from Microsoft, Razer, and PowerA.
As a downside, not all games are currently available for streaming via the cloud, so take that into consideration before making a purchase.
Formerly known as PlayStation Now, the streaming service was merged into PlayStation Plus in 2022. Simply put, PlayStation Plus is Sony’s answer to Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass. PlayStation Plus comes in three different packages: Essential, Extra, and Premium.
Benefits range from access to online multiplayer and exclusive member discounts to cloud storage and monthly games that you can keep so long as you remain a subscriber. That said, if you want to access cloud streaming, you’ll have to splurge on the Premium package, which starts at $17.99 per month.
Much like GeForce Now, Sony keeps its PlayStation Plus updated with new games, with Far Cry 5 and Yakuza Like a Dragon spearheading the more recent additions.
Furthermore, PlayStation Plus comes with one significant advantage over its competitors: PlayStation exclusives. If you want to play games like Horizon and God of War, Sony’s monthly subscription is the best way to go. However, PlayStation Plus only supports games from the PS4 era and prior, with no current support for PS5 games.
Alternatively, you can take advantage of the PS Remote Play app to stream content from your PS5 or PS4 to a smartphone or PC.
With the prevalence of remote work, not being tied to a place or a device becomes increasingly important.
Shadow isn’t a gaming service per se, but you can use it as one. Similarly to Nvidia’s GeForce Now, Shadow gives you access to a powerful Windows PC with the addition of almost everything that comes with it.
The platform supports a wide range of devices and peripherals, such as keyboards and mice. All you need is a supported display.
Sounds good, right? But convenience comes at a rather steep monthly price of $29.99. Furthermore, for an additional $14.99, you can access a more powerful remote PC with a performance of up to 4K resolutions and hardware-accelerated Ray Tracing for gaming.
Steam Link is possibly the most novel streaming solution on this list. It was released in 2015 as a complimentary service to Valve’s Steam Machines.
Essentially, it connects your PC to stream your Steam library to an external device, such as a monitor or a smartphone. The app supports a variety of devices, from Android smartphones and Android TV-enabled devices, as well as Linux and Mac.
On the hardware side, the Steam Link supported USB and HDMI connections, as well as almost any popular controller, including Xbox and PlayStation. Sadly, the hardware portion of the Steam Link was discontinued in 2018 due to the poor sales performance of Steam Machines. That said, if you can get your hands on the device, it’s an interesting though somewhat redundant piece of tech that you can take advantage of, even today.
Which cloud streaming service is best for you?
As of now, Luna offers the closest experience to Google’s Stadia. And with Amazon’s backing, it’s sure to receive a plethora of features and games as time goes by. Nvidia’s GeForce Now comes in at a close second, thanks to top-notch performance and access to a vast game library.
That said, Xbox Cloud Gaming continuously expands, and its inclusion in the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate package makes it an especially appealing proposition. Meanwhile, Shadow caters to those seeking a productivity solution while also keeping the cloud gaming option open. At the very least, your options to replace Stadia are plentiful, and more are certainly on the way as we move towards a future of game streaming.