We go hands-on with Playkey, a subscription-based PC game streaming service similar to Nvidia GeForce Now, for this early UK review. Is Playkey a true rival for GeForce Now, and what games are available so far? Here’s everything you need to know about Playkey and game streaming in 2016.
Last year Nvidia launched the excellent GeForce Now game streaming service. Available via Nvidia’s own Shield devices, including the Shield Tablet and the bloody brilliant Shield TV, GeForce Now allows you to play the latest super-demanding PC games, through a basic Android machine. That includes the likes of Deadlight Director’s Cut, Witcher 3, Lego Star Wars Force Awakens and so on.
New game streaming service Playkey does a similar thing, except that Playkey allows you to stream big new PC games such as Doom and Fallout 4 through your clunky old Windows or Mac computer. We’ve done some hands-on testing with Playkey and here’s what we think so far.
Playkey early review: How does Playkey work?
Playkey is a pretty straight-forward game streaming service. All you need to do is sign up for an account at Playkey.net and download the Playkey software, which allows you to stream your chosen title direct from one of the below servers. The best server is chosen automatically based on your location, so you don’t need to worry about it.
The game itself runs on the remote server, which means that your mouse and keyboard inputs – and the resulting action – needs to be pinged back and forth with no delay whatsoever. After all, with virtual lives on the line, even the tiniest lag could mean devastating defeat (and much frustration).
Playkey early review: What games are available and how much does it cost?
Playkey is very much a baby right now, which means that its biggest disadvantage compared with GeForce Now is the selection of games available.
Signing up for a Playkey subscription is quick and hassle-free. You can try it out for an hour for just 90p, or pay £9 for a full month of access if you’re impressed. However, a basic subscription gives you access to just seven titles right now however, most of which are getting on a bit. These games are:
Evolve Stage 2
World of Tanks
World of Warships
World of Warplanes
Given that I can play the likes of Flatout 2 – which came out in 2006 – on my knackered old laptop, you have to wonder why anyone would want to stream it to their PC now in 2016.
If you want access to the demanding new PC releases such as Doom and Fallout 4, you’ll have to essentially buy them. They cost typical Steam prices, so £30 to £40, although there are some slightly older games available at a lower cost. Max Payne 3 is £15, XCom 2 is £22 and Skyrim is £9, so if your rig can’t even run those titles, this is always an option.
Playkey early review: Game streaming experience
We tested Playkey with a Plusnet Fibre Broadband internet connection in London.
In our tests, we had some initial problems with connecting to the game servers. Thankfully these appear to just be teething issues and were sorted out with a buzz of technical support.
From then on, we generally managed to connect to a server to play our chosen games after just a minute or so of waiting. The streaming experience itself on the whole was impressive. There was close to zero lag, so racing and action titles were perfectly playable. Of course we did see a couple of judders here and there, but not even Nvidia GeForce Now is perfect.
Games are fully-featured too, so you can play them as if they were locally installed.
Playkey early review: Verdict
Playkey needs a much better selection of games in order to truly compete with Nvidia GeForce Now, which offers up a strong selection of around 50 titles to play with your £7.99 monthly subscription. However, the framework is definitely in place for a solid game streaming service, so here’s hoping Playkey can boost its catalogue and really make it here in the UK.