Reviews - Updated on April 11, 2022

“Advertising, right?” – I write to the editor in response to the proposal to review the Playkey service. “Special praise is not necessary, evaluate objectively as it is,” they assure me from the other side. Okay, no one pulled the tongue. I take a sip of coffee from a mug, look at the cat that has fallen asleep near the monitor, and drive in leading queries into Google. I think I’m in trouble: reviews of the platform vary polarly. And on any material about her, whether it really is an apology or a harsh dressing, they pre-hang the labels of “ordered” and brought suitcases. Who would bring me, huh? But there is really more and more talk about cloud gaming, and it doesn’t hurt to feel it without gloves at least for personal development.

Theory

Just think, five or six years ago, this technology was discussed conspiratorially at exhibitions, as if it were a secret weapon. Say, you install the client on a low-power device, or at least on a smartphone, and you can easily launch any new products with horse requirements for hardware.

And the trick is that complex calculations are taken over by a remote server, and the result is issued with minimal delay. As a result, the player receives a controlled stream: it seems to be a broadcast, but at the same time, the hero on the screen clearly executes all orders. A very suitable option for those who can not save up for a powerful computer and a modern console. Well, or for those who want to finish off their favorite blockbuster on vacation, lying on the sand under the southern sun.

The Witcher on a calculator?  Trying cloud gaming

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

What was an audacious dream yesterday has become commonplace today. The ice broke back in 2012, when Sony Interactive Entertainment acquired the Gaikai cloud service for $380 million. In 2015, after a series of iterations, this purchase resulted in PlayStation Now, a platform that allows you to run console hits on your smartphone or TV. Know yourself, monitor the stability of the connection and pay a monthly fee. Following SIE, NVIDIA pulled itself up with GeForce Now. The demand for technology has also led to the fact that the baton passed from huge corporations to enthusiasts who have devoted their lives to combating “input lags”.

The excitement has not subsided so far. Suffice it to say that Microsoft recently introduced Project xCloud, and Electronic Arts announced that their Project Atlas will rely not only on clouds, but also on artificial intelligence. The director of Ubisoft also hovers in the “cloud”, believing that soon the need for sophisticated gaming devices will disappear – everyone will switch to a new format.

Listen to all these statements, so soon gamers will stop spending money on new hardware. And the next generation of consoles will not be what we imagined: well, how does the mysterious Scarlett really consist of two gadgets, one of which is a box for receiving broadcasts?

Cloud gaming has long been predicted to win over powerful home systems. A common thing for an industry that is somehow seen as a branch of the jungle. The strong, they say, eats the weak here, but this thing will finally destroy that one. Sometimes prophecies come true, but once in a while it doesn’t happen. After all, the idea of ​​broadcasting a game at lunchtime is a hundred years old, and the PlayStation 4 still looks like an attractive purchase. And gamers do not turn up their noses from new video cards.

This does not negate the advantages of the technology: it really allows you to save on components, is omnivorous in terms of operating systems, provides quick access to entertainment and is good as a replacement for DRM. On the other hand, no one has canceled the requirements for Internet speed, lags and service fees. How to understand if you need a gaming “cloud” specifically for you? That’s right, in practice.

Practice

I must say right away that the prospect of using such services has never bothered me. Why move to the “cloud” if the computer pulls all the new items, and there has never been a need to go through anything outside the home and work? But let’s set up, following the example of Albert Einstein, a thought experiment: let’s say my workhorse died a long time, and from more or less suitable devices, only a laptop remained. I really have an old HP ProBook 4730, and because of the breakdown, he had to amputate the video card – why not a candidate? Throw in the damn slow, intermittent Wi-Fi internet. Although it still crosses the minimum threshold of 10 Mbps, in such cases it is better to use a cable connection. In short, conditions close to extreme.The Witcher on a calculator?  Trying cloud gaming

There are two types of freebies on Playkey: you can have fun without buying a game or without paying for the service.

We go to the site, load the client from it, register, and the first question to the developers about the protection of personal data immediately arises. The service launches only licensed games, so it uses pass-through authorization – the user somehow needs to drive in the Steam and Uplay logins and passwords. And with each session, you will have to do it again, because different connections are provided by different servers. Playkey representatives claim that all authorization data is encrypted, and no one stores personal information in the cloud. We check – it’s the 21st century in the yard: I went through the reviews of the platform on the Internet and did not find any screams about password leaks. It turns out, really.

We figured it out, but what would it be to cut ourselves into? It is logical to check cloud gaming for strength with the help of new, beautiful and demanding products. Because the first choice fell on Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. But here is a surprise: the service supports the role-playing action from Ubisoft, however, on condition that the key was activated on Uplay or purchased in the internal Playkey store. With my Steam version, all I had to do was stare at a blank screen. Of course, such nuances are rare, but it is better to look at the conditions for a particular product in advance.

Okay, Cassandra, move over – there’s enough beauty in the industry without you, if you know what I mean. To complicate the task, before starting NieR: Automata, we set the maximum broadcast quality – 60 fps in FullHD resolution, although the laptop screen only supports 1600 by 900 pixels.

The Witcher on a calculator?  Trying cloud gaming

To make it clear how the broadcast behaves normally, only the resolution flaws affect.

I have come across criticism more than once, where Playkey is accused of taking a long time to launch games. Strange claims, given that everything is already installed on a remote server and there is no need to wait for “freeing up disk space”. Although I do not rule out that a year or two ago these attacks were justified. It’s just that here it is necessary to take into account that many reviews about the platform have grown old. Because the service has been developed more than once and for all – updates are constantly coming out for it. And they change things. How long does it take for the Facebook* app to completely change? That’s the same.

In fact, only the requirement for the quality of the connection remains unchanged, which the developers honestly focus on. Everything is elementary: with a bad connection, the responsibility for quality falls on the client, but with a good one, on the service provider. To check this, just display the statistics on the screen. Let’s say, videos with Playkey analysis once appeared and gained views on the example of the third Witcher, where everything slowed down and twitched. But how many of the authors of these videos admitted to the slow speed of the Internet, as I did? It got to the point that the developers responded with their own entry – with all the necessary metrics. Nobody bothers to test on a trial stream. Green numbers – play, but no – resolve the issue with the provider. Well, or try to connect a cable instead of Wi-Fi – it is this life hack, by the way, that the support service will first of all advise.

In general, returning to field tests, I personally did not encounter the problem of delays when starting NieR. The panorama of battles with robots on the ruins of civilization flashed in a couple of minutes. 2B, as always, is charming, but something else is more important – it executes commands very clearly, without noticeable delays, as if the gameplay is processed by my junk, and not by advanced hardware far away. With the picture, everything is not so simple: either it is displayed correctly, or it slows down. Once everything was mixed up into a mess of dancing squares to a broken sound.

For the purity of the experiment, I did not interrupt the broadcast and waited for the end of the geometric storm. Soon everything returned to normal. It turns out that the bad Internet is to blame? We should check the service with a genre where connection speed is critical – for example, a first-person shooter. In the end, NieR does not particularly shine with graphics, and the response delay, given the genre features, is not always noticeable in it. Another thing is the thunderstorm of video cards Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, the favorite of last year according to . If anything breaks hopes, then this monster, I decided, ordering the same maximum 60 fps in Full HD.

The Witcher on a calculator?  Trying cloud gaming

So the broadcast fails: the “cloud” is visible, but there is no gaming.

Imagine my surprise when the action game launched without the slightest hint of artifacts or lags – unlike the much less demanding adventures of 2B. In addition, the sensations of distributing headshots to the Nazis through the Playkey are the same as on a regular desktop – adjusted for a worse display and a thinner resolution. Maybe it’s in the settings? The graphics quality is really low by default. Switched to medium – nothing changed. I just sit and go through The New Colossus on an ancient laptop without a video card.

The last test is gamepad support. I dust off the Logitech F310, plug it into my laptop, and fire up The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. The game is just among those that the service allows you to play with different types of controls. After a chic session of Wolfenstein II, the second “Witcher” also “lags” like NieR: Automata, although without terrible crashes. But instead of a hit parade of squares, another misfortune puzzles me: Geralt’s exploits are interrupted by the exit from full-screen mode, which is why I have to regularly press Alt + Enter. Well at least, the test of cloud gaming with a gamepad turned out to be quite successful.

Now, of course, you will ask how things are with the rates. The question is what is needed: the price list is not posted on the main page, and you can find out the details only after linking the card to your personal account or by going to the appropriate help section. There are three plans in total: for those who play a little, a lot and always – with a price of 1,290 to 2,290 rubles. The maximum tariff gives a month of unlimited use, and the rest are reduced to a common denominator – 1 ruble per minute. The same payment and at the per-minute rate. For example, if you play for half an hour, the corresponding amount is debited from the card. Is it a lot or a little? Imagine that you are going to the village to your grandmother, and the same Wolfenstein II to finish off the hunt. Take a laptop with you, connect a cable to it on the spot (now digital TV is everywhere) and do not deny yourself anything. Pay 60 rubles per hour, while receiving a bonus of 20 free minutes – even carsharing is more expensive. So under such circumstances, the offer is profitable.

The Witcher on a calculator?  Trying cloud gaming

For some, the holiday looks like this.

So, I approached the issue as an ordinary person without a material base and any special knowledge. So what’s the bottom line? Of course, it is not worth advising Playkey as a full-fledged replacement for a computer or console. Especially for those who are planning a career in eSports and look at ping as the only important parameter of the game. But there are different cases. For example, I have a neighbor who is a big fan of the Stalker universe and everything connected with it, including the work of 4A Games. Knowing my occupation, he periodically asks when Metro Exodus is there. Although we both understand that his antediluvian PC, barely pulling Last Light at the minimum, will definitely not withstand such a blow. Yes, and money for an upgrade is not expected. In this situation, or when traveling away from home, Playkey is the right option. You can try the service here.

* The activities of the parent organization “Meta” are recognized as extremist and banned in the territory of the Russian Federation

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