Often, we who belong to the glorious PC Master Race will shout in the foreboding glory of how fantastic the PC is. However, we forget that the PC platform is intimidating to the average gamer. Sure the PC is a platform that on the whole has higher graphical capabilities, has better controls, more exclusives, and offers more custom choices than a local library but on the surface, the PC appears to be expensive. Undoubtedly gamers everywhere should experience the superiority of the PC, but that paywall is mostly locked away to those who only buy $300 consoles. LiquidSky has set this problem in its crosshairs and hopes to solve this issue in the near future.
What Is LiquidSky?
LiquidSky is a complete cloud-based gaming solution. It is a program and application for many platforms that claim to offer high-fidelity low-latency gaming via a virtual PC. To better explain LiquidSky is a solution for those who cannot afford a gaming PC. With an underpowered Mac, Windows, Android, or iOS device LiquidSky grants the users full access to a gaming PC in the cloud. This cloud service, allows users to play any PC title by streaming visuals, audio, and control input to the device. All that is needed is the previously mentioned device and an internet connection greater than 15mbps. Best of all, this service is offered on a relatively free basis. The free option is provided as long as ads are displayed. There is also a limit on how much gaming can be done on its servers. After that point, a user can then upgrade to other plans. More on this subject later.
How Does It Work?
LiquidSky is a cloud-based program that allows users all over the world to gain access to a virtual computer via the internet. It sends data packets over the web utilizing your download and upload speed in tandem to create a seamless computing and gaming experience. As long as the minimum requirements for Windows are met, (iOS, Android, and Mac coming soon), the users can signup for the service.
The user then has access to a virtual gaming computer that has moderate components. These components consist of up to a 6-core CPU with 4GB of VRAM and 500GB of storage. What this amounts to is a decent gaming experience consisting of up to 60fps at 1080p for many titles. LiquidSky allows the user to select which virtual PC profile the user will run. This process is directly reflected in the payment plan that best reflects their gaming prowess and habits. For example, an average gamer will probably play about 10hr of gaming a week which amounts to 40hrs a month. As a result, the user should opt in for the subscription of $9.99/month.
If you're not a fan of reoccurring subscription payments, LiquidSky also offers pay-as-you-go plans that give the user freedom to rollover SkyCredits which are essential minutes of virtual PC usage. These are in the form of a one-time payment and can be added to at any time. Much like pre-paid cell phone plans the more SkyCredits you buy at one time, the cheaper it is overall. Like I mentioned previously, there is a free option also available. This profile sets you at a predefined PC profile as well as a cap on SkyCredits. However, there is a waiting list to use this beta program. Looking at the bright side, however, it's a free program.
Cloud computing is nothing new or revolutionary. Many other companies have offerings in the cloud computing business as they have done this before. Companies such as Amazon, IBM, and Syscon have invested into cloud computing. They offer cloud computing solutions that are cheaper than LiquidSky. If you are looking for the most affordable option, LiquidSky is not for you. Amazon through its AWS (Amazon Web Services) is probably the best offering currently available, but these companies don’t offer a gaming based experience. Most cloud computing offerings are tailored for enterprise usage where a system of unified computers is needed. The area where LiquidSky shines is that it can offer the same experience with a direct impact on gaming.
We must take every solution with a grain of salt. Although LiquidSky is a great solution for cloud-based gaming, it is still in its beta stage. As a result, many features are left out. We still would like to see remote gaming solutions for Mac, iOS, and Android. Features like those are scheduled and should be coming soon.
Is It Worth It? (Price Breakdown)
It's hard to say if LiquidSky as a whole is worth it for everyone. It is a unique solution with a wide variety of applications (once the beta version is complete). Gaming on the go is probably one of the biggest selling points as the limited number of hours allowed for gaming does not reflect what a dedicated gamer will use. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I have compiled a detailed chart to help break down the actual cost of LiquidSky versus more traditional competitors like the console and the at home gaming PC. I did not include gaming laptops as gaming laptops are not a viable solution for most. Also, the breakdown assumes a 12 month period to cover the cost of gaming at an average of 40hrs per month. With that said, below are my findings.
Gaming Platform Solutions Breakdown
I can understand from a first look the chart can be confusing. For more information about the specifics of the GPU's feel free to look them up on Google and compare them yourselves. Also, the cost of both the PCs and the consoles are noted with a " ~ " to ensure that all the prices are not set in stone and can be found for cheaper or more expensive depending on the website purchased. Not to mention that not all platforms and components can be purchased at this time. Prices for the gaming PC are reflected by an average cost of that particular type of build. Let the platforms war begin.
Judging by the total cost and the cost per minute of gaming on average, it's easy to see that a console can provide the cheapest gaming experience. This fact, however, is not an argument on the cost effectiveness of consoles. Consoles don’t offer nearly the amount of options a PC. Drawbacks such as less power and a proprietary system that needs a new “box” every so many years plagues the console market. A gaming PC is a better route in the long run for those who absolutely love gaming.
What we actually want to know is if LiquidSky can meet or outperform its local gaming PC counterpart. On the topic of the cost, it is true that an average gamer can benefit from the services that LiquidSky can provide. However, if we take a look at performance and current offerings in the beta 2.0 version of the software, it can be concluded that a traditional gaming PC may be worth a second look. Although the initial costs may be higher, a conventional desktop gaming PC can offer less latency, longer game times, and a sense of pride. It is true that what LiquidSky has accomplished is extraordinary, but if you're a real gamer and spend more than 10 hours a week gaming, the data tells a different story. It still does, however, offer a solution to the ongoing problem of making PC gaming accessible to all no matter how poorly your current in home PC performs. In short, buy a gaming PC and have LiquidSky pay-as-you-go plans as a backup when your gaming PC is out of reach (or at the very least to just impress your friends).
For those who are interested, I am prepared to do an in-depth review of LiquidSky. As a new user, I am eager to find out if LiquidSky is all its cracked up to be. For more information or if you have any questions, please comment below, and I will be happy to answer.