Life is an unpredictable thing. You’re planning to move to an apartment on the other side of the country, sending all your belongings and game console to that exact location… And got diagnosed with COVID the day before you have to go there as well. Now you’re stuck self-isolated, with no devices but your phone and MacBook Air, trying to find a way to spend some time on a weekend.
Before the war hit Ukraine with full force in February, trying to entertain me while stuck in the quarantine was my biggest problem. And at the same time, it was a great opportunity to try the so-called “future of gaming”. Boosteroid is one of a few cloud gaming services that are not just available in Ukraine, but also have local servers for a better streaming experience. Whether this streaming experience was worth it – you can find out in this review.
Just like many cloud gaming services out there, Boosteroid offers you 1080p 60FPS gaming on demand. The service is aimed at Europe, that’s why you’ll find only European locations of servers (Romania, Italy, Ukraine, Slovakia, France, Spain, Sweden, Serbia, and the UK), support for 15 European languages (only 7 of them offer full translation, but thankfully English and Ukrainian are among them) and pricing in Euro.
“Where can you play?” you ask me. Pick almost any device that you want and you can game on it. Boosteroid has dedicated apps for Windows, Linux, and Android (including Android TV).
By the way, the good news for KIVI Smart TV owners is that you don’t even have to download the Boosteroid app. The service is already integrated into the KIVI Media app on most TVs of 2020 and 2021 model years.
But even if you’re a dedicated Apple fan – Boosteroid works perfectly in your browser. I’ve tried it on Safari and faced no problems whatsoever.
Playing Bioshock Remastered on your iPhone, in Safari, with dedicated touch controls (the platform emulates an Xbox controller for that matter) – no problem. As long as the game you want to play is available on the service.
Speaking of that… In terms of game selection, there are hundreds if not thousands of titles in the game library (the service does not specify how many exactly), that you can stream to your device of choice. Boosteroid does not allow you to watch the library before signing up for the service, but thankfully, you don’t have to pay anything upfront, to see if your favorite game is in the service.
To not get lost in this selection there’s also a search bar that can help you navigate all the available games. It also supports 8 game stores to install games from, including the most popular ones like Steam and Epic Games Store, but excluding GOG, for some reason.
This is important because, to operate, Boosteroid requires you to own the game on one of the supported platforms. So if you’ve never signed up to Steam or Epic Game Store it’s a good time to do so. Remember the Bioshock Remastered I played on my iPhone? I’ve grabbed it for free from the Epic Games Store. Same story with Borderlands 3.
Boosteroid is even kind enough (or greedy enough, depending on your point of view) to offer an in-service store. It was made in partnership with Fanatical, a service that sells game keys. All the games in this section are guaranteed to work with the service, in case you’ve signed up but have nothing to play. And even if support of some games will be dropped from the service in the future – all the games are yours to keep, as long as you remember your Epic Game Store or Steam credentials.
Do I consider this approach good or bad? I’ll tell you a little bit later down the road. But now, let’s try gaming with Boosteroid.
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While I might not have a stash of laptops or phones at home to compare with the devices I was given for the test, thankfully, I have accounts for 2 other cloud gaming services, with which I can compare Boosteroid.
So please welcome our contestants:
Nvidia’s Geforce Now, which is now finally free of the gfn.ru nonsense in my home region (thank you for this, Nvidia).
And a forbidden fruit, only available with VPN, called Xbox Game Pass Cloud Gaming (I’ll call it Xbox Cloud Gaming for short).
Testing these 2 in comparison with Boosteroid is interesting not just from the point of raw gameplay, but also from the economic perspective, as each of these services offers a slightly different payment model.
I’ll keep my rant about the price of the services to the end of the article, but for now – let’s test some games. For the sake of this comparison, I have chosen 2 games that are available across all 3 services, and thankfully I own the licenses for:
Internet connection-wise, I have 99-th lvl difficulties. My rented apartment offers only one option of connection: a wireless, mesh-style network, that spans the whole building block. The only choice that I have is either a 5 GHz network (unstable, connection drops once in an hour) or a 2.4 GHz network (relatively stable, but not recommended by the majority of services), and obviously, I’ve picked the most stable option, despite the recommendations.
My home network offers 30-35 Mbit/sec for download and upload at best, which is just enough for every service to operate. Not so perfect conditions to try any game-streaming service, but I highly doubt that an average Joe, who is a potential user of these services, has state-of-the-art networking at home.
Keeping all this in mind, let’s dive into the first game.
For me, this game must be called A Plague Tale: The Battle with the Controller. Upon the first launch, I faced a strange behavior of controls and camera that immediately broke the whole experience for me. But the second try is a charm.
If you need a great controller compatible with the service, pay attention to Stratus Duo from our friends Steelseries. Tested – it works even with a TV.
My internet connection still sucks, but when it doesn’t the picture looks perfect, almost like playing the game on the PC or, rather watching a playthrough on YouTube. However, when internet speed drops, you won’t see a picture quality degradation like on YouTube, rather you’ll face stutters.
Some may appreciate that Boosteroid prefers picture quality to performance, but I’d prefer a smooth gaming experience to the best picture quality. Maybe other services will offer a middle ground.
One immediate improvement over Boosteroid is controller support. The Xbox Series S controller is instantly recognized by the service and ready to play. But keep in mind that it’s your only control option for this service, at least for now.
Also keep in mind, that if you are not lucky enough to live in one of the supported regions, your only way to use this service is with VPN (our partner Surfshark is a great option), which will definitely affect your internet connection even more.
Given all the prerequisitesб I’ve prepared myself for the worst – a complete slideshow that also looks like a 240p YouTube video… And Xbox Cloud Gaming impressed me. While the game menu looked like something from my worst nightmares, the game itself ran much smoother and at times more responsive than on Boosteroid. Stutters, attributed to my connection, were also less frequent. And that’s with VPN on.
Picture quality-wise, we are dealing with a console version that trades some lighting effects for a stable 60 FPS. But comparing footage from both games side-by-side it will be hard at times to tell which version looks better.. It also should be noted that Xbox’s service deals much better with the varying internet speed: you’ll get more artifacts, but the stream itself will try to continue at any cost.
Seeing these results it’s interesting what will Nvidia do to beat both services.
Leveraging their desktop experience, Geforce is the only service that offers its own screen recording option… which defaults at 720p and 30 FPS. Probably, that’s because I’m using the free tier of Geforce Now, and one of the premium options would allow me to screen record at a higher resolution and play with 60 FPS.
Higher-tier options would also open a much better picture quality. Among the three services, Geforce Now obviously looks like it runs on a budget gaming machine: you won’t get any proper lighting effects or high frame rates.
But hey, picture and the streaming quality are not everything, so let’s try a more action-packed game to find out if you can play online with the help of a cloud service.
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It turns out that Boosteroid can properly adjust the picture quality and offer a better gaming experience if it wants to. Fortnite turned out even more playable than A Plague Tale – it properly supports the controller if you prefer to play on a couch, offers the same picture quality as in a previous game, and most of all – allows you to actually play the game, almost forgetting about annoying stutters.
Almost, because they still exist, although not as apparent as in A Plague Tale. What also exists is a noticeable delay from your mouse/controller input. You still can snag a frag or two (in fact, that’s the only time I was able to score – I still suck at Fortnite), but I doubt that competitive gaming is possible here. But maybe it is possible with Xbox Cloud.
Whether it’s due to the strategic partnership between Epic and Microsoft, where you can play Fortnite on Xbox Cloud even without paying for Game Pass Ultimate, or due to other reasons, that was the smoothest Fortnite experience among 3 services. And that’s with VPN on!
At times, you can even forget that you’re playing it on a streaming service – you simply running around and discovering the game world… And that’s when an occasional stutter reminds you that it’s still a cloud gaming service you’re playing on.
What also reminds you about streaming limitations is a noticeable input lag. Right at the moment, when you’re trying to score. Maybe Nvidia handles this better, isn’t it?
Interestingly enough, input lag was less noticeable, when playing on Geforce Now. Maybe it was due to lower image quality overall, or the visible 30 FPS limit, but here I was able to aim better, and overall feel like I’m not the least capable player overall.
But does it make Geforce Now your streaming service of choice for Fortnite? Absolutely not. Occasional visual glitches and stutters still ruin the game. And while Fortnite is not a graphics benchmark in any way, it looks like a mobile port on the Geforce Now free tier.
So none of the services provides a smooth and problem-free gaming experience, but maybe their pricing makes up for the missing frames and occasional stutters.
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With the gaming experience out of the way, let’s talk about economics. Each of Boosteroid’s competitors offers its own take on a subscription model that is slightly different from the other.
Microsoft’s take is the most interesting – Xbox Cloud Gaming is not a cloud gaming service per se. It’s an addition to the existing Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription that simply gives you one more way to play the games, for which you’re already paying.
On the good side – that means that you don’t have to buy any game to enjoy Xbox Cloud Gaming, it’s $15.99 per month (or less, depending on the region), and 300+ games are available for you to play whenever you want to: on your console, PC or in Cloud. It includes games from Xbox Studios and Bethesda, that are unavailable anywhere else, and an EA Play subscription is included as well.
On the bad side – you are dependent on agreements that Microsoft has with its partners, and you can’t play the games outside of the subscription. Yes, even if you have an Xbox and all of your games were bought in the Microsoft store – you can play them only on your Xbox, just deal with it. And don’t forget, that if your region is not supported – be ready to add a decent VPN to your monthly payment (you already know that Surfshark is a decent one).
Nvidia’s option is closer to the Boosteroid’s offering. It also connects to your Steam or Epic Games Store library, and what you’re paying for is a platform to play your games. Pricing for the priority pass is on par with Boosteroid – €9.99 per month. But don’t forget that here’s a free tier available, something that both Xbox and Boosteroid are missing. And if you’re ready to shelve twice as much – €19.99, you can also enjoy an RTX 3080 plan with up to 4K & 120 FPS, and dedicated servers.
Where’s the catch, you ask me? It’s in the queue that you have to wait to play the game you want. It took me around 15 minutes to reach a title screen of both games I’ve tested on a free tier, but all servers might be busy, and you have to shell out the money or wait. Additional cost will give you a priority but does not guarantee that you will be first in line. The service also limits your play session from 1 hour on the free tier, to 6 hours on priority and 8 hours on RTX 3080. It’s quite a lot, but still a limitation.
In this regard, our main hero offers you the easiest payment plan ever. Boosteroid is just €9.89 with monthly billing, and €89.89 with annual billing. And that’s it, no other options, no free or demo tiers – you either pay for the service as it is or go to the competitors. The game library is on par with Nvidia’s service, there are no queues or limitations to your game session: just pay and play (considering that you have the game license).
The only question is: should you pay for Boosteroid or any of these services?
It’s hard to judge any of the cloud gaming services, without acknowledging the cloud gaming industry in general. And this industry is still trying to figure itself out, even though it exists for more than 12 years (I’m counting down from the launch of OnLive and Gaikai, now both owned by Playstation).
There are multiple strikingly different approaches to cloud gaming, ranging from being a console competitor (Google Stadia) to being a Netflix-like platform & game subscription service (Amazon’s Luna). And all of these approaches have their own limitations. With one limitation being persistent – you need to have a high-speed and stable internet connection, and preferably stay in the area close to the service’s servers.
This sole requirement makes cloud gaming inaccessible to many potential buyers, including me. Because, sometimes you just can’t change your ISP or networking, and without a proper internet connection every cloud gaming experience is ultimately broken.
But probably you’re luckier than me, and your internet doesn’t suck. Should you consider Boosteroid in this case?
You absolutely can. If you already built your Steam or Epic Games Store library, and just looking for a platform to play – Boosteroid is a great temporary option for hardcore gamers, who don’t want to wait for their turn to play, or to have their gaming session limited in time. Just enough to wait until you can upgrade or build your gaming PC.
Can Boosteroid replace your game console? For sure! The cheapest console of the current generation – Xbox Series S costs $300 (and even more, depending on the region), and provides medium or close to medium graphics settings at 1080p, 60 FPS. Even with streaming features like stream compression, Boosteroid delivers a much better picture while maintaining 1080p, 60 FPS. And it will cost you a third of the cost of the Xbox Series S per year.
But if you don’t mind waiting a little bit or you don’t want to play more than 6 hours non-stop, Nvidia might be a better option, with lower latency, and a more stable connection. And if you have to pay for each game anyway, at least you can try Geforce Now for free. Whereas for Boosteroid – you have to rely on reviewers like me, who tell you that the service is not bad.
I also have concerns over the service’s future. While it’s obviously great to have an independent service like Boosteroid that can offer competitive pricing and exclusive access to some games (like the Batman Arkham series for example), ultimately that’s up to publishers and game studios to allow their games to be streamed at each and every platform. And this can turn the cloud gaming market into a version of the video-on-demand market, where each and every studio has its own streaming service with exclusive content.
And there are already some red flags in the industry: remember, that Microsoft games are not available anywhere else, except on Game Pass. With Sony’s all-new Playstation Plus, a wave of mergers and acquisitions, and constant rumors that Stadia will be reborn as a platform provider for 3rd-parties, I believe it’s just a matter of time when big publishers will decide to cut off the oxygen from small and big independent cloud gaming services.
With this in mind, I can only say that Boosteroid is a perfect idea, limited by an imperfect world we all live in: with its bad internet connection and almighty corporations holding its further development.
Shout out to Boosteroid and KIVI for the opportunity to test the service during the 8-hour gaming session.
You can also help Ukraine fight with Russian occupants via Savelife or via an official page of the National Bank of Ukraine.
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