LiquidSky officially Launched for Windows back in March of 2017. With almost a year under its belt, many might be wondering what the service is like today. Does it live up to the advertising and the hype? Is it worth the price? Should you choose the Gamer or the Pro Package?
LiquidSky is one of the few modern Cloud Gaming services that is currently not in beta. The company has also been very vocal about succeeding where other companies have failed. They promise the ability to play virtually any PC Game that you want, anywhere you want, and at 60 fps in full HD.
We decided to put these claims to the test. LiquidSky offers two purchasing options for their service. You can either subscribe on a monthly basis, or purchase a package of Sky Credits. Sky Credits are used for hours of gameplay on one of LiquidSky’s cloud systems. Once you run out of credits, you either can’t play or you’ll need to purchase more. $10 will get you 1500 Credits which come to about 25 hours on their “Gamer” system, or about 12 hours on their “Pro” system. The subscription option starts at $20 per month and allows for 80 hours of gameplay. You also get more storage and priority support.
For our testing, we chose to purchase 1500 Sky Credits so that we could freely hop back and forth between the different system packages. The “Gamer” Package gives you access to a machine with a 3-core CPU and a GPU with 2 GB of VRAM. The “Pro” Package doubles the specs of the other and provides a 6-core CPU and a GPU with 4 GB of VRAM. Both packages also come with 200 GB of Storage for your games. We decided to test two games to get a feel for how each Package performs in real life. GTA V is a good choice because it runs reasonably well on lower-end hardware, but has demanding high-end options. We also chose Fortnite Battle Royale to see how things fared during intense multiplayer matches.
When you first boot up a system on LiquidSky, you are greeted with a familiar Windows Desktop. LiquidSky runs on Windows Server 2016. It will feel very familiar to those already comfortable with Windows 10. Once you’re at the Cloud Desktop, you are free to install any PC game that you want.
Running into Problems
At this point, we ran into our first challenge with LiquidSky. Every time that we attempted to install GTA V, it would make progress for about 10 minutes and then it would crash the Cloud Computer. We wouldn’t be able to boot up the Cloud Computer again unless we waited for about an hour. Thankfully the GTA V installation resumed where it left off. We had to go back and forth in this way several times to get the game installed. Thankfully we didn’t have the same installation difficulties with Fortnite, but found that the game would crash when we’d try to open it after installing.
We reached out to LiquidSky Support to get to the bottom of these problems. LiquidSky provides support through email, and we had to go back and forth with them for about a week. In the end, the support agent that we worked with wasn’t completely sure how to solve the problem. We found the solution to GTA V on our own in the LiquidSky Community Forums. Other users posted similar experiences and narrowed the issue down to a conflict between LiquidSky and GTA V’s Social Club Launcher. Fortnite’s launching problem turned out to be a bug in LiquidSky as well. LiquidSky currently has an issue with games that launch at a resolution that is different than your streaming resolution. We solved this problem by going into the configuration file for Fortnite and manually setting the game resolution to 1920×1080.
Once these issues were solved, we were faced with the challenge of getting the in-game settings correct for each title. LiquidSky does a great job of posting recommended settings for various games in their Blog. Unfortunately, these recommendations are limited to the Gamer Package Hardware. We had to undergo a lot of trial-and-error to figure out the best settings for the Pro Package Hardware.
Games run smoothly on LiquidSky
Once we had perfected our in-game settings, the actual gaming experience was decent. We only ran into one annoying issue that is worth noting. LiquidSky is very demanding on your internet connection, and it doesn’t do well if you are running other things on your network while you play. Something as simple as loading up a YouTube Video on my phone while playing was enough to disrupt the LiquidSky streaming session. It resulted in artifacting in the game, and sometimes crashed the streaming session.
Each package was capable of playing our two test titles at 1080p resolution and 60 fps. The Gamer Package could play each game on low settings with options like antialiasing and shadows turned off. The Pro Package could play with most features enabled and with a mixture of high and medium settings. We tried pushing each game to Ultra Settings and found the experience to be unplayable due to low fps.
Overall the games were both very playable. We tested with an Xbox One S Controller wired to our computer with USB. Both the streaming video and controller input experienced about 40 ms of latency. Playing these games on the computer itself without streaming normally has about 10 ms of latency. So the streaming itself added about 30 ms of latency to the experience. In our experience, latency below 50 ms is typically playable. The video looked good with occasional artifacting and some noticeable video compression.
LiquidSky could be Great; Still needs Polishing
After testing for about two weeks, our impression of LiquidSky is that it still needs some polishing. We don’t believe that a product that is fully released should experience as many bugs as we encountered during our testing. Other Cloud Gaming services don’t struggle as much when you have other things running on your network while you play. The hardware that LiquidSky is using for their systems was unimpressive. The Gamer Package performs on par with a computer running a modern Intel HD Graphics chip. The Pro Package falls short of the power offered by competitors like Snoost or PaperSpace. Thankfully Cloud Services are dynamic in nature. We fully expect LiquidSky to change and improve in the coming months. We plan to revisit them again in the future, and we hope that next time we can fully recommend them as a go-to Cloud Gaming Service.
Plug & Play3.5/10
- Available Worldwide
- Good Controller Support
- Playable Latency
- Supports any PC Game
- Unstable when Sharing Network
- Bugs while Installing/Launching Games
- Difficult to get In-Game Settings Perfect
- Ineffective Support
Josh is a long-time Gamer and Technology Guru. He is known for his writing and troubleshooting skills. Josh can solve just about any problem, and is especially good at getting to the bottom of technology challenges. He has a background in Networking and holds a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degree. When he’s not gaming, Josh can be found blogging, testing new tech, and interacting with Flickstiq’s social media following. He lives in Ohio with his wife and children.