Tech

Cloud Gaming in Australia – What is it? Who offers it and more

The concept of not using a console or PC to play games, and just streaming a game over the internet is pretty new. It’s a reality though in parts of the world and Australia is set to join them.

So, what is ‘Cloud Gaming’? Who offers it? How much is it? and when can we get it ?

Cloud Gaming is a pretty simple concept. You run the game on a server that streams the game to your device. Because the heavy work is being done by a server, it means you can run games on devices that normally wouldn’t be able to handle the heavy loads, devices like your mobile phone, or even your old PC or Chromebook.

There’s five major players in the cloud gaming space at the moment. Microsoft with Xbox Cloud Gaming (xCloud for short), NVIDIA has GeForce Now, Amazon has Luna, Google offers Stadia, and Sony has Playstation Now (PSNow for short).

Each of these services has different offerings in terms of pricing, games, ways to play – and also whether they’re available in Australia. So what does each service offer and which service is ‘for you’?

Microsoft xCloud

As owner of Azure server hosting, Microsoft is well positioned to provide cloud game streaming across the globe. Microsoft launched xCloud – or Xbox Cloud Gaming as it’s officially known – in November 2019, before launching it as a full product last year in select markets.

Microsoft announced their xCloud trial for Australia last year, letting Aussies get a taste of cloud gaming for the first time. The xCloud beta allows Australians to stream 25 games to their Android devices.

Once the service launches in full, if it comes with the same game availability and pricing model as it operates in other markers, Microsoft offers users 150 games which you can be played on PC, Xbox or mobile.

There’s no free trial for Microsoft xCloud, instead their current offer lets you to pay $1/month for three months. At launch in the US, Microsoft made xCloud a perk of their GamePass Ultimate package, which currently costs $15.95 per month in Australia, and gives you access to the library of games on PC and Xbox as well. Microsoft hasn’t announced xCloud pricing in Australia just yet, so definitely check out the games for free while it’s in beta.

Microsoft certainly like to mention their xBox controllers, but you can use just about any Bluetooth controller to play on your Android devices. Microsoft is currently working to launch xCloud on iOS using a Progressive Web App in the Safari browser, with Q2 2021 floated as a target launch date. 

Can I Play it in Australia now?
You can join the xCloud Beta for free by signing up here. Microsoft are looking at a full launch later this year.
Pricing:
No Free Tier – 3 months trial for $1 per month
– Possibly $15.95/month if included with their GamePass Ultimate service
Games:
150 games in library
What can I play on?
PC, Xbox or mobile

NVIDIA GeForce Now

NVIDIA is a well known player in the gaming space thanks to their video cards. NVIDIA has been building their game streaming service, GeForce Now, since 2015 before officially exiting beta last year. Last week they announced the service would expand to Australia later this year but we’re still waiting on a lot of details like launch date and local pricing.

The launch of GeForce Now in Australia means we have a lot of questions. How much will it cost? When will it get here? Will there be a Beta? There’s no official answers to these questions just yet, but given GeForce Now has been operating for a while in the US, we can get the gist of what’s going to happen. 

At it’s core, NVIDIA’s GeForce Now isn’t an all you can play bucket of games like xCloud. Instead you connect your store accounts from STEAM, EPIC, UPlay and more and stream those games from the cloud to your PC, Mac, Chromebooks, Android and iOS devices and the NVIDIA Shield Android TV box.

When NVIDIA launched GeForce Now, they automatically opted all publishers into the service, which led to some friction. After a number of publishers pulled their games, NVIDIA took a more measured ‘opt-in’ approach, only making games available on GeForce Now when publishers wanted it. This has been fairly successful, with NVIDIA announcing that ‘publishers have opted in over 2,000 games to stream on GeForce NOW’.

In terms of cost, GeForce Now has a free option, though it means your cloud gaming session is limited to an hour. NVIDIA does offer ‘Founders’ plans for $5/month which let you do up to 6 hour sessions, so it depends on how long you want to game for. 

Can I Play it in Australia now?
NVIDIA has announced GeForce Now will launch in Australia later this year, but dates, times and pricing are still to be announced.
Pricing:
Free for hour long sessions
$5 USD/month for up to 6 hour sessions
Games:
Over 2,000 games available to stream from your STEAM, EPIC and UPLAY libraries. 
What can I play on?:
Can play on PC, Macs, Chromebooks, Android and iOS devices and NVIDIA Shield Android TV

Amazon Luna 

A relatively new player in the cloud gaming market is Amazon, who announced Luna in September alongside new Echo, Ring and Eero hardware. As the back-end for AWS (Amazon Web Services) which hosts a vast number of websites, Amazon, like Microsoft are well suited to launching cloud gaming with infrastructure all over the globe. 

Amazon Luna is not available in Australia and Amazon Australia head Kate Burleigh advised at launch that there are no plans to launch Luna in Australia ‘anytime soon’. The service is still in ‘early access’ in the US, so it may be a while before it expands globally.

Amazon will offer a 7 day trial of Luna for new users, before charging $5.95USD per month to access the service. Amazon offers 76 games from a range of publishers, but will let you add ‘Channels’ like Ubisoft+ which gives you access to their huge library of AAA titles, though you need to subscribe an additional for $14.99/month.

You can either use an Xbox One or PS4 DualShock 4 controller for Luna, or their own controller which sells for $49.99 USD.

Luna can be used on Windows PCs, Macs, Fire TV, iPhones, iPads, and select Android phones. 

Can I Play it in Australia now?
No, Amazon has only announced Luna in the US and Amazon Australia head Kate Burleigh advised there is no plan to launch Luna in Australia ‘anytime soon’.
Pricing:
Free 7 day trial
– $5.95 USD/month
– ‘Channels’ added at additional cost (Ubisoft+ $14.99USD/month)
Games:
76 titles from a range of publishers with channels from EA, Ubisoft, Konami and more offering more titles.
What can I play on?:
Can play on Windows PC, Mac, Fire TV, iPhones, iPads, and select Android phone

Google Stadia

While Google Cloud is a formidable presence in web hosting services, Google as a company doesn’t really scream ‘gaming’, but Google IS in the gaming business, announcing Stadia back in 2019. 

Stadia is, like all these services, structured a little differently. You don’t subscribe to access a bucket, or channel of games, instead you buy one of the over 160 titles available and then play it on any number of devices.

Stadia can be streamed to a number of platforms including Android phones/tablets, iPhone or iPad, PC/Mac with Google Chrome or a TV with a Chromecast Ultra.

Google offers both a free tier and a ‘Pro’ tier to stream games on Stadia. Players using the free service can simply go to the store play a demo or buy a game and then stream it – however it only streams at 1080p (lol, only). Stadia Pro users however pay $10 USD/month to get 4K streaming, as well as 5.1 sound and a few free games per month. 

At the moment Stadia is not available in Australia and Google Australia hasn’t got anything to share on launch dates locally at this stage. For the moment Stadia is only available in 21 countries across Europe and North America.

Stadia doesn’t need a controller, but there are ‘official’ controllers you can buy which cost $69 USD, or you can buy a ‘Premiere’ edition which is bundled with a Chromecast Ultra for $99.99 USD.  You can also play on PC with mouse and keyboard controllers.

Can I Play it in Australia now?
Not yet, Google has not announced plans to expand to Australia yet.
Pricing:
Free Tier with 1080P – you need to buy the game to play it
– Google offers demos which can be played by anyone with a Stadia account (no payment required).
– Stadia Pro $10/month (brings 4K streams and 5.1 sound)
Games:
165 titles from a broad range of publishers.
What can I play on?:
Can play on Android phones/tablets, iPhone or iPad, PC/Mac with Google Chrome or a TV with a Chromecast Ultra.

Sony PSNow

Sony are of course a big name in gaming, but their PlayStation Now (PSNow) service isn’t hugely well known due to its limited availability. It’s expanded since its initial launch in 2014, but to date, Sony has been mum on any expansion to Australia. 

PlayStation Now offers players the option to stream over 700  PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 games to their Playstation 4, Playstation 5, or PC. Originally you could stream to the PSVita, but with that handheld console essentially defunct, the device availability is limited. 

Sony currently offers new users a free 7-day trial with PSNow, though it costs $9.99 USD per month on an ongoing basis – or you can purchase up to 12months access for $59.99USD. 

PSNow shouldn’t be confused with PlayStation Plus (PSPlus), which is still required to play online games, as well as giving you up to 2 new games in your PSLibrary per month. 

Can I Play it in Australia now?
No. Sony has not announced any plans to expand PSNow to Australia yet.
Pricing:
7-day free trial
– $9.99USD per month
– $24.99USD for 3 months
– $59.99USD per year
Games:
700 games
What can I play on?:
Can stream PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 games on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and PC.

Future

As internet speeds, availability and game streaming technology improve, more services are likely to emerge.

There’s still the sleeping giant of Nintendo who has recently begun exploring game streaming on the Switch. 505 Games recently launched a streaming version of their atmospheric suspense game Control for the Switch, though we can’t experience it here in Australia just yet.

Cloud gaming is heating up, and if you have a Bluetooth controller and an Android device I highly recommend checking out the xCloud beta while it’s running. The service is quite eye-opening and may make you start to consider whether having a console in the living room is really necessary.

Cloud Gaming in Australia – What is it? Who offers it and more
To Top

Sign up for EFTM Emails!

Join the EFTM Man Cave for exclusive giveaways & news updates!

Welcome! (almost) - Please check your inbox or spam folder to confirm your subscription.