CES 2017 - With LiquidSky, gamers can transform their old rigs into high-end PCs for free--all you have to do is watch ads.
LiquidSky is a more accessible free-to-play and microtransaction-style answer to NVIDIA's premium GeForce Now game streaming service. Using custom built IBM servers outfitted with high-end CPUs and enthusiast-grade NVIDIA video cards, LiquidSky using the cloud to beam supercomputer power to your outdated laptop, desktop PC, Mac, or Android and Apple mobile devices.
Yes, this service will stream PC games from Steam like GTA V on your phone over the cloud, although the touchscreen controls are a bit wonky.
While LiquidSky is primarily a monetized service that requires users to buy a monthly allotment of SkyCredits via a monthly subscription service, it does have a free option, but there's a catch: advertisements. The F2P model revolves around users earning Sky Credits to trade in for game time.
You get 1 hour worth of game streaming per every 6 minutes of ads you watch, but you're limited to just 3 hours of high-end PC gaming a day. The free performance probably won't be that good, however, as the lowers paid Gamer tier features 1080p 30FPS perf with a 2GB VRAM GPU, 8GB of RAM, and 3 vCPU cores.
The Elite subscription offers the best performance tier, simulating a high-end PC rig with an 8GB VRAM GPU, a 12-core vCPU, and 32GB of RAM.
Although you're leveraging servers on the cloud, you'll still retain full access to all of your games across digital PC storefronts like Steam, Battlenet, uPlay, Origin, and GoG.
The actual pricing scheme is a bit confusing. LiquidSky has users paying a set fee every month to unlock a set number of SkyCredits, which are then drained as you play. How fast your monthly allotment of credits is drained depends on your performance tier.
There's three tiers, but the press deck didn't explain how much you pay for each SkyCredit. The outdated pricing page, however, gives us an idea of the pricing: the Gamer tier costs $10 for 80 SkyCredits, and the $40 per month sub has unlimited credits.
Check below to see how fast your SkyCredits will be drained with each performance tier.
"LiquidSky officially announced that it has developed what will be the future of gaming by delivering the power of an ultra gaming PC and the convenience of console/mobile gaming to any device.
Gamers across the world can connect to any of LiquidSky's 13 datacenters and play any game at ultra quality settings on a Mac, Android, Linux or Windows device. With this announcement came a completely new service and business model that will significantly grow the reach of game developers and eSports across the globe."
"High-end PC gaming, as well as console gaming, is a luxury still out of reach for many," noted Jason Kirby, LiquidSky's Chief Marketing Officer.
"LiquidSky is changing that through our F2P access model - already popular in mobile and online gaming - allowing gamers to turn their existing devices effectively into a high-end PC gaming system. Developers and publishers will also benefit from LiquidSky, as their legitimately purchased games can now be enjoyed securely by significantly more gamers, including those that previously couldn't afford the hardware required to enjoy full-performance PC games on optimum settings."
I think that LiquidSky is a novel idea, but the monetized business model will have most gamers running for the hills. Having to type "SkyCredits" so many times has honestly irked me, and it's weird to see microtransactions manifest in a fully-fledged cloud game streaming service.
NVIDIA's GeForce Now model, which charges $25 for 20 hours of play, is starting to look like a more viable option. In any case, I think it's way too early for these things to actually take off: if anything, people will use GeForce Now and LiquidSky to sample what PC gaming has to offer, making it a kind of rental service before consumers invest thousands of dollars on high-end rigs.
For more information, check out the official LiquidSky press release.