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Home / Features / PS5 cloud gaming explained: what is Sony’s online gaming service and how does it work?

PS5 cloud gaming explained: what is Sony’s online gaming service and how does it work?

Everything you need to know about streaming PlayStation 5 games from the cloud.

Playstation handheld

Most people opt to stream the content they watch these days, replacing discs or hard drives of old shows. But if you can stream the content you watch, why not the console games you play as you don your gaming headset? Cloud gaming is not quite as commonplace, but lets you stream the latest games without needing a catalogue of titles yourself. And Sony is the latest brand to offer this feature, with PS5’s cloud gaming service.

Sony is going to let select PS5 owners stream the top games directly to their console, rather than having to purchase or download the title. But how exactly does it work? Here’s everything you need to know about PS5 cloud gaming.

What is PS5’s cloud gaming service?

Sony is offering cloud gaming to PS5 users. With the new feature, you won’t have to go out and buy discs for new releases, or wait for them to download. Instead, your console will stream the title from the cloud in real-time – just like watching a show on Netflix. It uses your Wi-Fi connection to render everything behind the scenes, so you can just crack on with playing.

PS5 cloud gaming banner

To start with, Sony will only offer selected titles for PS5 cloud gaming. These include Resident Evil 4, Genshin Impact, Fortnite, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Horizon Forbidden West, Ghost of Tsushima, Mortal Kombat 11, and Saints Row IV. There will also be trials for Hogwarts Legacy and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. However, the exact list is currently unconfirmed. As the feature begins to become more widespread, Sony promises that hundreds of PlayStation titles will be available.

How does it work?

PS5 cloud gaming uses your Wi-Fi connection to stream games. Rather than storing the title on a disc or on your PlayStation console, it gets beamed straight from the cloud. You’ll still be able to download content and make in-game purchases while playing, as well as taking screenshots or screen recordings. These will all be saved locally on your PlayStation console.

You can pick your preferred streaming resolution for gameplay, allowing you to take advantage of your telly at home. The resolution options include 4K, 1440p, 1080p, and 720p. We imagine these will differ slightly by game, with some not necessarily being produced in 4K.

PS game Valkyrie

At launch, PlayStation cloud gaming will only work on PS5 consoles. This suggests that it’s on the way to other game consoles from Sony. The upcoming PlayStation Portal will already be able to stream games from your PS5 – so we imagine this new feature will be the logical next step. But cloud gaming could allow those owning older consoles, such as the PS4, to access newer PS5 titles.

PlayStation cloud streaming vs Microsoft Cloud: key specs

FeaturePlayStation Plus Cloud StreamingMicrosoft xCloud
AvailabilityIncluded with PlayStation Plus Premium subscription tierIncluded with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription
Game SelectionWide range of titles across various PlayStation console generationsPrimarily focused on current-generation Xbox games, some older titles
Streaming HardwareBased on older PlayStation hardware (PS3 and PS4)Based on powerful Xbox Series X hardware
Maximum ResolutionUp to 4K for PS5 games, 1080p for PS4, 720p for PS3Up to 1080p (games appear to be Xbox Series S versions)
Supported DevicesPlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PCXbox consoles (Series X/S, One), PC, Android devices, iOS devices (in development)
LatencyCan have noticeable input lagGenerally more responsive depending on your network setup
Price (USD)$17.99/month or $119.99/year$14.99/month
Price (GBP)£13.49/month or £99.99/year£10.99/month

Who can use the PS5’s latest feature?

Initially, only those in Japan, Europe, and North America will be able to use PS5 cloud gaming. It launched on 17 October 2023 in Japan, 23 October in Europe, and 30 October in the US. These are targets, so the actual release might get delayed.

To use PS5 cloud gaming, you’ll need to be subscribed to PlayStation Plus Premium – the most expensive tier of PlayStation’s subscription service. The feature will automatically be added for those with memberships. PlayStation Plus gives you access to downloadable games each month, and other extra features. The premium tier will set you back $17.99/£13.49 per month.

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Connor is a writer for Stuff, working across the magazine and the Stuff.tv website. He has been writing for around seven years now, with writing across the web and in print too. Connor has experience on most major platforms, though does hold a place in his heart for macOS, iOS/iPadOS, electric vehicles, and smartphone tech. Just like everyone else around here, he’s a fan of gadgets of all sorts! Aside from writing, Connor is involved in the startup scene. This exciting involvement puts him at the front of new and exciting tech, always on the lookout for innovating products.

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