In-Home Game Streaming for Dummies (UPDATED: 27th Oct 2016)

This is a bit off post for my blog, but as a massive gamer it has been interesting seeing all the announcements with regards to game steaming in the past couple months.

2015 is definitely the year for game steaming with Microsoft, NVIDIA and Steam making major product announcements.

For me game steaming was probably the single biggest reason for switching from being an Xbox 360 gamer to PS4 gamer and in fact probably 80% of PS4 gaming has been done very Remote Play and my PS4 isn’t actually connected to TV.

Game steaming isn’t necessarily new, there has been cloud based game services for some time with OnLive being one of the more well known ones however the OnLive service discontinued as of April 30, 2015 with Sony acquiring the their patents.

Cloud based

Here is what cloud based streaming looks like

CloudGameStreaming

Nintendo

The Nintendo’s Wii U has off-TV play [1] whereby some games can be played on the Wii U Gamepad.   Sadly although the experience is generally good the Gamepad screen is only 6.2 inch’s and is pretty big and heavy in comparison with today’s tablet standard.   Although latency is pretty good the range is limited as the connection is direct from the console to the gamepad and not over any home wireless network.

WiiUGameStreaming

Sony PlayStation

Sony have been playing with game steaming for some time.  Originally the PS3 supported Remote Play [2] with a very limited number of titles to the PSP and PS Vita handhelds. Through Sony’s acquisition of Gaikai [3] they have expanded remote play to be able to steam the majority of PS4 titles to the PS Vita as well as the Playstation TV (Vita TV in Japan) and also the later models of the Xperia smartphone and tablets.   What is pretty impressive is this all works across the Internet too as long as your have a faster enough and stable connection.

With PS4 system software update v2.00, the Share Play feature was introduced allows users to invite an online friend to join their play session via streaming.

As a final piece to the jigsaw the PlayStation Now cloud gaming service is now available in North America allowing for collection of PS3 games to be stream across the Internet to a number of Sony devices and giving a level of backward compatibility to the PS4 although this is a subscription based services and you can’t play any of your own PS3 games which you might own.

Remote Play is limited to 720p 60fps on the PS4 / PS4 Slim, with 1080p possible with the PS4 Pro (CUH-7000 series) [11] and as requires PS4 Remote Play version 1.5.0 or later running on Windows with Intel Core i5-2450M Processor 2.50 GHz or faster [12]

As of the PlayStation 4 System Software 3.50 game streaming to Windows (8.1 and 10) and Mac OS X (Yosemite and El Capitan) is supported [4]

playstationgamestreaming

PC (Steam and NVIDIA)

Game streaming on PC has been expanding over the last 12-18 months.  Game steaming is now split into two camps NVIDIA and Valve steam.

NVIDIA game steaming is very much limited to their shield products including their graphics adapters.  NVIDIA has also introduced cloud gaming service using GRID technology.  There is some unofficial 3rd party support to Android tablets using Limelight/Moonlight [5]

The Valve Steam support in-home steaming from a Windows PC based host with either an AMD (ATI) or NVIDIA graphic adapter to another Windows PC, Apple Mac, Linux machine and also to steam box or machine running SteamOS.   Later in 2015 and Steam link box will be released with steam box as Valve steam tries to make PC gaming more accessible and break into the living room as an alternative to console gaming.

There is not support for in-home steaming to Android or iOS devices however there is no reason why it won’t work to Windows tablets running the steam application.

Both NVIDIA stream and Valve steam in-home streaming operates at 1080p 60fps.

PCGameStreaming

Microsoft Xbox

Microsoft announced Xbox One streaming to Windows 10 PC’s [6] and it has recently been made available via both products preview programmes and was available at the launch of Windows 10 on the 29th of July 2015.

Oculus also announced the Oculus Rift will be compatible with the Xbox One steaming [7] of its VR handset in, although the PC hardware specification for the rift is quite at the higher end at the moment with a $300 GPU required and no laptop support.

The quality of the streaming with Xbox One to Windows 10 is much better than with Remote Play on PlayStation 4 with the ‘Very High’ setting supporting 1080p 60 fps however you pretty much need a wired connection (which I use) or 802.11ac wireless router and adapter [8]

I am sure Microsoft will further expand its game steaming support whether it be a cloud based service or support to Windows Mobile 10, Android and iOS devices as well as steaming over the Internet.

At the end of 2015, Linx Vision tablet [9] was announced and released which is an 8 inch tablet with a Xbox compatible controller dock to enable you to do Xbox streaming which is similar the Sony GCM10 game controller mount arrangement for the DS4 controller and Sony Xpedia Z3 compact tablet.

At E3 2016, Microsoft announced the new Xbox One S along with new Xbox Wireless controller with added Bluetooth support [10] which would make pairing and streaming with iOS and Android a lot easier in the future.  Although controller device support is still a challenge on iOS.   Also following E3 2016, the Xbox One SmartGlass App on Android and iOS has been rebranding to “Xbox” inline with the Windows 10 application.   Maybe Microsoft will release an official Xbox One controller mount in the future support attachment with phone or tablet, although there are some 3rd party one at the moment.

XboxGameStreaming

As with all in-home steaming, the device connectivity needs to be considered.  Wired connections are best and ideally if you need to use wireless the host PC or console machine should be wired with a 5 GHz 802.11n or 802.11ac wireless connection used for the client.

I think that covers to basics. Please do share the article let me know if I missed anything or any mistakes and I will update it as I am sure people will be interested if only for the diagrams I have knocked together.

RESOURCES:

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Off-TV_Play
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remote_Play
[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaikai
[4] https://remoteplay.dl.playstation.net/remoteplay/lang/gb/index.html
[5] https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.limelight&hl=en
[6] http://www.xbox.com/en-GB/windows-10
[7] http://news.xbox.com/2015/06/xbox-xbox-and-oculus-partner-to-change-the-face-of-virtual-reality
[8] http://news.xbox.com/2015/08/18/xbox-august-update-game-streaming/
[9] http://www.linxvision.co.uk/
[10] http://news.xbox.com/2016/06/13/introducing-newest-member-xbox-family-xbox-one-s/
[11] https://www.playstation.com/en-gb/explore/ps4/ps4-pro/
[12] https://remoteplay.dl.playstation.net/remoteplay/lang/gb/index.html

UPDATES:

17/06/2016: PS4 System Software 3.50 and Xbox One updates (E3 2016)
27/10/2016: Update PS4/PS4 Pro details

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