A new app is on it’s way and it’ll turn your mobile into a gaming PC. You won’t need any additional hardware or equipment - all you’ll need is a stable internet connection. In this blog I share my thoughts with the upcoming LiquidSky gaming app.
Gaming has always been a big part of my life, and with smartphones, it’s now easier than ever to get my game on. The trouble I’ve always had, though, is that mobile games often lack that true gaming experience - they’re riddled with in-app purchases, they’re supplemented with adverts. LiquidSky is something that could hopefully give me that gaming experience I’ve been craving on my mobile device.
LiquidSky isn’t available to the public yet, although beta access is available to previous contest winners, but I’ve learned a lot through other user’s reviews, footage of the app and press releases from the LiquidSky development team. For me, LiquidSky could be the next best thing for gaming, and there’s only a few little tweaks that I personally think the LiquidSky development team need to make for them to be onto a true winner.
Let’s talk about what LiquidSky is, what it does, and how it does it.
LiquidSky Gaming Through the Cloud
LiquidSky is a cloud gaming app - it’s not the first of its kind, but it’s the first time something like this has been done the right way.
Essentially, with LiquidSky you can connect via the cloud to a gaming PC at one of LiquidSky’s server locations dotted around the world. In the past, we’ve seen applications like OnLive and GeForce Now offer a similar service.
Once you’ve connected to the PC, you can use your phone to control inputs, or plug a controller into your mobile device and control inputs with that instead. Because all of the hard processing work is done on the computer server you’ve connected to via the cloud, all your mobile has to do is receive the video stream of the cloud computer and then return any inputs so that you can take control of the game the PC is currently playing.
If your smartphone is good enough to play 1080p YouTube videos, you should be good to go!
LiquidSky’s solution to Previous Problems
Like mentioned before, LiquidSky isn’t the first of its kind. OnLive was the most popular cloud gaming service in the past, but it had some major surface level problems that stopped it from ever kicking off. LiquidSky has managed to avoid these pitfalls and I’ll explain how below.
Game and content restrictions
With OnLive you are able to connect to a cloud gaming PC and then choose from a list of video games available on the platform. The available game list was always rather limited and you were forced to purchase them, or a monthly subscription, through the platform. This meant that whilst you could have fun with plenty of good quality video games, you were a bit stuck if you wanted to quickly download and boot up a fun indie game or a brand new title that was currently unavailable on the OnLive platform.
OnLive also had it’s own UI that wasn’t exactly that phenomenal. It felt like you’d been handed a gaming console with a very limited selection of features and games.
LiquidSky has avoided this entirely by instead giving each user their own virtual PC - there’s still a UI overlay, but users can download any PC game under the sun. They can download platforms like Steam, Uplay and Origin, or alternatively just use LiquidSky to browse the internet. The games you play on LiquidSky are the games you own, so if you ever buy a gaming PC in the future, all of your purchased games can be used there too.
Latency and Screen Tearing
Latency is a term used to describe the speed it takes for a file to transfer through an internet connection. If there is a lot of latency, the video stream of any game the cloud PC may be sending to your smartphone will seem pixelated or out of place. This is because the cloud PC is sending out new frames of video faster than the mobile device has the ability to download and render them on the display.
This is an issue that’s been around since the early OnLive days, but thankfully it’s mostly resolved, so long as you have a decent internet connection.
Because hardware in both mobile devices and PCs has improved over the years, you’re not going to find any hardware-related screen tearing issues unless you’re using a very old smartphone. If you haven’t got a good enough internet connection, screen tearing can still be an issue. If you’ve got a half decent internet speed, but don’t have fiber in your area, you may still get smooth performance at a lower video resolution.
However, if you’re playing a fast paced game like Overwatch, or any games at 1080p resolution, your device may not be able to keep up, unless you’re connected to fiber broadband. If you do have fiber broadband speeds, though, LiquidSky works considerably well.
Release Date and Needed Changes
Obviously with a platform like this, money does get involved. Starting from March, LiquidSky will be available to the public. Those interested will be able to use LiquidSky by choosing a different package.
You can either go the ‘pay-as-you-go’ route, ad-supported, or the monthly subscription route. With ad support you can get three hours of gameplay per day, for free. Pay as you go costs $4.99 (£4) per month and this gives you the option to purchase pay as you go credit.
Alternatively you can pay a monthly subscription, starting at $9.99. (£8) Either route you take, you’ll end up paying roughly £4-£10 for about 50-100 hours of usage per month.
If you want a high end gaming PC to stream from, you’ll also need to pay a little extra. What this means is that casual gamers will be able to get a very nice experience for less than £10 per month, but seasoned gamers will be shelling out a lot more for higher frame rates and more gameplay hours.
I think LiquidSky needs to adjust their higher end subscription model, and they could also do with making their entire model a little simpler to understand. With Pay-as-you-go, monthly packages and ad supported versions it’s already too confusing to understand.
As a result, LiquidSky will start in March as a great introductory option for those wanting to try out PC gaming, but if you’re a serious gamer it’ll not be able to stand up against a proper gaming rig, not yet anyway.
If the pricing system is adjusted, though, we could be onto a winner. What are your thoughts on such a platform? Would you consider using it?
Ollie (zerodudex333) is a big mobile/tech fan. He posts blogs on Monday and Tuesday Mornings.