After several beta periods, Nvidia has launched its GeForce Now gaming service that lets you stream purchased games from Steam, Epic, and Battle.net to the Nvidia Shield box and other devices.
GeForce Now gaming service
Late last year, Google launched its cloud gaming service, Google Stadia. In some ways GeForce Now is similar - games are streamed to your devices - but in other areas it is different.
Nvidia has been experimenting with game streaming in various form for years and GeForce Now has been in beta for a quite long time. With the official launch of GeForce Now (some apps are still in beta), Nvidia is ready to take on Google Stadia, which is by many users still labeled a beta product.
- "GeForce Now lets you use the cloud to join in. It’s the power to play PC games anywhere, on any device - even the billion devices that aren’t game ready. You’re upgrading to a state-of-the-art gaming rig by virtually adding a GeForce graphics card to your PC, Mac, Shield or Android phone," announced Nvidia.
While Google has its a pre-selected line-up of games available directly through Stadia, Nvidia's GeForce Now connects you to existing platforms such as Steam, Epic, Battle.net and Uplay where you may already own games. Games are then streamed in real-time to your device. Major publishers like Rockstar (RDR2, GTA5) and Square Enix are missing.
- "If you buy it, you own it. If you already own it, play it. Your purchases are always yours," said Nvidia.
At launch, compatible devices include PCs (Windows or Mac), Nvidia Shield TV and Android smartphones. The company said that its will bring support to Android TVs (other than the Shield) and Chromebooks later this year. Both keyboard/mouse and game controllers are supported. There are currently no plans to offer GeForce Now on iOS or Apple TV.
Game streaming experience
For the optimal experience, there must be a data center close to your location. Nvidia currently has nine spread across the US, five in Europe, two in Japan, and one in South Korea.
Before you start a game, the service will test your latency. Nvidia is recommending at least a 30 Mb/s connection and optimally 50 Mb/s. GeForce Now supports up to 1080p60 game streaming but not 4K or HDR.
- "We already support over 500 games, with compatibility for thousands more. And we’re exploring how our users can play more of their favorite games, even before they’re formally part of our library."
What exactly does "compatibility" mean? Loading up GeForce Now on our devices shed light on the matter. For example, trying to play Team Fortress 2 via Steam involved having to 'install' it on the cloud server first rather than just clicking 'play'. Installation happened almost instantaneously so it was not a major pain point.
We also tried flipping our VPN on and off to direct traffic through different regions and you definitely want to have a server close to your location for the optimal experience (to keep lag down and picture quality up). Nvidia still has some ground to cover. The user interface also feels very unpolished. Still, there is a clear potential here.
You can try GeForce Now for free and enjoy 1-hour gaming sessions but you may have to wait in queue if servers are crowded. A $5 per month subscription ('Founders' access) will give you 6-hour gaming sessions and priority access. The subscription price will rise after 12 months.
- Source: Nvidia