The promise of cloud gaming is that you can do it anywhere with any device with internet access and a good enough browser (each cloud gaming service seems to have its own requirements on the browser front). You should be able to play super-demanding games whether you are on a business trip with just a laptop or at home and the main TV is being stolen – or even if you just do not feel like sitting on the couch. But the biggest promise with cloud games is that no matter where you are, if you have a phone, you have all your games.
In practice, this is a bad idea. After spending the last few weeks enchanted with my Steam deck almost daily to play games in the cloud, I will never want to try cloud gaming on my phone again. Valve’s huge PDA for doing anything has made me realize that sometimes sometimes dedicated gaming hardware is good! The Swiss Army Knife’s attitude to mobile games promised by cloud games on your phone is about as useful as the saw on a real Swiss Army Knife. I appreciate the effort, but I actually do not want to use it.
I have been trying to get cloud games to work on my phone very. I have tried Red Dead Redemption 2 and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Halo and Gears of War and many other games. Every time I get amazed, damn, these are demanding AAA games that usually require a lot of expensive (and noisy) hardware playing on my phone. It feels like the delivery of a promise that technology companies made to me decades ago.
But the miracle disappears when you play cloud on your phone for a long time. Cloud play drains the phone’s battery quickly, which means you can and will feel the battery anxiety. I once thought that cloud play would be a miracle when I was waiting for a flight at the airport, but when my phone got hotter than the sun and the battery ticked down, I was more worried about finding somewhere to plug in than the story in RDR2. I still needed my phone to have power the rest of the trip.
Cloud games also interfere with all the other things that phones are good for. Notifications from other apps that do not play games make themselves known at the most annoying times. If your mother calls to check on your flight, you will be immediately expelled from your game. A friend texting to see when to pick you up? You must exit the game to respond. You can not even check Instagram without potentially losing your progress in a game and then having to wait while the phone tries to reconnect to the cloud’s game servers.
But the worst part of cloud games on a phone is the controls. Most services include a touch screen overlay. The controls themselves are fighting for screen properties, and if you’re like me and have never had the talent for digital joysticks on the screen, you’ll be frustrated. Accessories such as Razer Kishi and Spine is supposed to make the phone a better tool for that kind of hardcore game, and I have a Kishi that I’ve used with more than one Android phone, but I still have to remember to actually take the thing with me. Kishi is not something that just hangs in my purse or that is automatically put in my pocket when I leave the house. And if I have to remember to bring a whole little handheld dongle to make cloud play on my phone even remotely fun, then I can actually not play anywhere at any time. I would probably rather have a whole separate unit.
After my Steam Deck arrived, I was forced to count on my affection, but also a great dissatisfaction, with cloud playing on the phone. The last two weeks I have been playing Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order on Xbox Cloud Gaming on my Steam Deck, and in addition to feeling the same sense of wonder as when I first played cloud games on my phone, I also get the bonus that I actually like the experience.
Instead of being a last resort, cloud gaming feels like a first choice when I do it on Steam Deck. I can not wait to get Sony and Nvidia and even Google’s cloud game solutions up and running. The game does not feel crowded. The controls just work. I can plug it in and play while I charge, and if I run out of battery I can just … do other things instead of living with the low-key fear of being completely disconnected from the outside world.
Do I want something lighter and quieter than Steam Deck for all my cloud gaming needs? Sure. Phones can already do the job, and with new beefy mobile GPUs on the horizon as ARMs ray-tracing-capable Immortalis, the possibility of having a really good mobile gaming solution without the need for custom chips (which both Nintendo Switch and Steam Deck rely on), feels closer than ever. Companies like Ayn and GPD trying to build them. But if the goal is to just cloud games on the go, I do not need an Immortalis GPU. When the internet is good, cloud gaming is more than enough for AAA gaming on the go. Which means you do not need the most powerful GPU or CPU. You just need one that can sip the battery and support a nice screen, 5G and rock-solid Wi-Fi.
I know such a device sounds a lot like a phone, but it should not be a phone. It should be his own thing. Because now that I have experienced a really fun mobile cloud gaming experience, I never want to go back to my phone. It’s good for many things – cloud games are not one of them.
#phone #terrible #cloud #games