LiquidSky has released the 2.0 version of their beta client. What’s it like playing your own games based in the cloud? Let’s find out!
When LiquidSky was first brought to my attention, I thought it was a good idea in theory. The in theory portion is because a lot of companies have tried similar things in the past and have not had a great amount of success. I’ve never been that interested in cloud-based gaming. I don’t see the reason to have a game stored on a server somewhere else when I could just play it on my own PC. But what if you can’t afford a medium to high-end PC? That’s where LiquidSky hopes to attract its audience.
I didn’t have a chance to try out LiquidSky before this, so I don’t know how the client was before, but this client is great! LiquidSky 2.0 comes to your PC in the form of a 3.5MB download. The client itself is a simple executable file and doesn’t require any installation. This is great for people who want to bring LiquidSky from PC to PC as it takes seconds to get up and running. I wish more small programs were like this. All that’s left after that is to create a firewall exception, log in to your account, and launch your SkyComputer. You have a choice of using the Gamer or Pro servers with Gamer running most games and Pro running all games. There was an Elite option, however, the issues still have to be ironed out on that so it’s been taken away for now at least.
So what is a SkyComputer exactly? Well, it’s your cloud-based Windows 10 PC that you’ll be playing games off of. You’ll find everything you would on a normal PC with extra restrictions so that you can’t tamper with the OS. You can install Origin, Steam, uPlay, or any other platform that you require to play games on. There is no library of games to play on LiquidSky 2.0. You can only play what you own so don’t think this is like Netflix for video games because that’s not the case.
The beauty of this system is how fast the downloads are. I downloaded a 7GB game on Steam in less than 2 minutes. I’ve never experienced download speeds that fast and it’s definitely one of the biggest positives of LiquidSky 2.0. The downside to all of this is that everything is stored on the SkyComputer so any save that isn’t backed up to the Steam or Origin cloud will be lost if you decide to discontinue your use of the service. This might not be a big deal to some, but for me, it’s a pretty big issue. I definitely don’t want to lose all my progress in the event that LiquidSky ceases operations or something like that.
I also find it weird that persistent storage is only available in the highest-priced plan. If you don’t pay your $9.99/month, you’ll have to keep downloading your games over again after 3-7 days. I get that it saves space on their servers, but that’s pretty lame.
The different account options for LiquidSky are pretty reasonable. There’s a free option that is ad-supported and allows you to earn SkyCredits for free as do the other tiers that do cost money. SkyCredits are virtual currency that allows you to play on your SkyComputer. It costs 60-120 SkyCredits an hour to play and if you’re a heavy PC gamer, that’ll start to get costly. Some people could get through the 2400 credits they start with on the monthly plan in a day. Of course, this stuff is changing all the time and I’m sure that the right balance will come about. I would just much rather personally pay a flat fee to be able to play anytime than have to deal with the SkyCredits. The worst part about it is that your credits start being taken away as soon as you connect to your SkyComputer. Did you forget to shut down your SkyComputer for a few hours? There go your SkyCredits.
The actual LiquidSky 2.0 service works quite well. I tried a few different games and went through some pretty graphically intensive scenes and I didn’t have many problems overall. The biggest issue the arose for me was a quick 2-second screen glitch. That was annoying but was far better than anything I expected. I had pretty much the same experience on 5Ghz Wi-fi as I did on a LAN connection, oddly enough. I didn’t experience any lag, there wasn’t any controller delay, it was pretty smooth other than the odd hiccup. It works as advertised and if you can deal with the odd glitch here and there, you might start using this everywhere you go as it is available on iOS and Android as well. I have not tried either of those platforms so I can’t tell you how well they perform.
I enjoyed my time with the LiquidSky 2.0. I will say that the client did not work for me at first and had to be updated before I could get it working, but once I did it was smooth sailing. I do think that the price structure of this service is going to have to be looked at because paying $9.99/month for 10 hours of gaming is kind of annoying. Yes, you can earn free SkyCredits, but how many people want to do that? I know I don’t. I think this is a good product if you have PC games you want to play and your PC isn’t up to the task. It’s certainly not something you want to be using all day, every day. I’d recommend trying it out for free before diving into the monthly plans to see if it fits your needs.