- Nvidia announced on Tuesday the full release of its GeForce Now game streaming service, which has been in beta for several years.
- GeForce Now will compete against other streaming services like Google Stadia. With that said, GeForce Now is geared towards PC gamers rather than console gamers, as GeForce Now supports PC games stores like Steam, Uplay, Epic, and Battle.net.
- Compared to Stadia, GeForce Now seems to have some major benefits, like a significantly larger games library. GeForce Now also won’t require users to buy a game that they already own in one of the supported games stores.
- Also important, GeForce Now allows cross-play with players who aren’t using GeForce, too.
- But unlike Google Stadia, GeForce Now has one glaring drawback: No 4K streaming.
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The main gist of GeForce Now is that it lets you play PC games on a wide variety of devices, including desktops, laptops, mobile devices, Nvidia Shield streaming devices, and even Macs and low-power Chromebooks. The games themselves run on computers in Nvidia’s cloud, and a game’s video is streamed over the internet, much like a Netflix video.
It can easily be its own standalone service, or it can complement a PC gaming setup by bringing games to any device wherever there’s a good internet connection. All-in-all, GeForce now is geared for those entrenched in PC gaming platform rather than console gaming, but many gamers play on both platforms.
If this idea sounds familiar, that’s because numerous cloud game streaming services are beginning to emerge, like Google Stadia and Microsoft’s Project Xcloud, and these nascent services have the potential to make a big impact on the gaming industry and how people play video games.
Check out all the relevant details you need to know about GeForce Now, and the main ways it’s already better than Google’s Stadia:
GeForce Now is available in two tiers at launch, a free version and a paid version
GeForce Now will be available with a free membership, and a paid membership called “Founders” at launch for $5 per month for 12 months. For both GeForce Now memberships, users need to buy – or already own – the games they want to play.
Here are the details for both memberships:
The free version of GeForce Now:
- Access to gameplay may be limited during prime times and periods of heavy network congestion.
- Game sessions are limited to one hour per session, but there’s no limit to how many sessions you can play. You’d just need to save your game when one session ends and start a new session – which basically means an interruption during your gameplay.
- To compare, Stadia doesn’t limit access during peak times or how long you can play. It only limits games to 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second.
The paid $5/month Founders membership:
- A free 90-day trial, priority access over free members
- Six-hour uninterrupted gaming sessions
- RTX graphics (more on that later).
- To compare, Stadia’s $10/month paid service, you get 4K resolution gaming (mostly upscaled to from 1080p) and access to games as long as you keep your subscription.
Nvidia’s GeForce Now has way more games than Google’s Stadia.
Right off the bat, GeForce Now has a huge benefit over Stadia.
Nvidia’s GeForce Now has a significantly larger games library than Google’s Stadia. With that said, it’s not difficult to achieve this. Microsoft’s Project Xcloud game streaming app can also make the same claim.
Nvidia touts that it’s an open platform, which is to say that you can access a wide variety of games stores, including Steam, Uplay, Epic Games Store, and Battle.net. By default, that means GeForce Now has hundreds more games than Stadia, which is its own ecosystem and has its own game store. Google truly has an uphill battle to fight as it creates an entirely new game store, whereas Nvidia works with established stores that already have millions of users.
If you already own a game that works with GeForce Now, you don’t have to buy it again.
If you own a game in any of GeForce Now supported game stores like Steam, Uplay, or Epic, you don’t have to buy the game again to play it on GeForce Now. This is a key differentiator from Google’s Stadia, where you have to buy a game separately to play on Stadia, even if you own it on a different platform.
And because Stadia is its own ecosystem, your progression in a game is only saved within Stadia. Your game’s progression in Stadia won’t transfer to the same game on a different platform.
Still, GeForce Now doesn’t fix the issue of owning both a gaming PC and a console, where you often have to buy games twice if you want to play them on each platform. And each game’s progress is also exclusive to each platform.
GeForce now supports cross-play with PC, Mac, Chromebooks, Android smartphones, and Nvidia shield.
Like Stadia, you’ll be able to play games on a wide variety of devices, including PCs, Macs, mobile devices, and the Nvidia Shield media streaming device for TVs.
Unlike Stadia, GeForce Now gamers aren’t limited to other gamers who are also playing games on GeForce Now. You could be playing a game on GeForce Now while playing against someone running a game locally on their PC, for example.
One thing to note, Nvidia hasn’t mentioned whether GeForce Now will work with Apple iPhones.
GeForce Now will have Nvidia’s fancy “ray tracing” graphics effects for games that support it.
Certain games support a graphics effect called “ray tracing,” which is enabled by Nvidia’s ray tracing technology in its graphics cards.
Ray tracing basically makes for more realistic lighting, shadows, and reflections in games. It’s a power-hungry effect that’s only usually viable if you’re running the most powerful gaming PCs that run on Nvidia’s most expensive “RTX” graphics cards, which start around $400 and go all the way up to $1,500.
Nvidia is offering ray tracing in games that support it for $5 per month in its Founders service on any device, even Chromebooks that would have no chance whatsoever of running ray traced graphics.
Nvidia says its GeForce Now will feel lag-free, which must be a given for any game streaming service.
Since a video game’s video is streamed over the internet in a similar way that a Netflix video is streamed, there’s going to be some kind of lag, or latency, compared to the experience of playing a game directly on a device itself. After all, the video stream has to travel however-many miles from the cloud to a device.
Among other things, low latency is one of the most important things that game streaming services have to get right. If there’s too much lag, the experience will be bad, and gamers will stick to running games directly from devices like consoles and PCs rather than streaming them.
Nvidia expects that GeForce Now will have 20-millisecond latency, which is to say that gamers shouldn’t feel much of a lag, if any at all.
Some reviewers of Google’s Stadia reported poor latency while gaming, while others reported little latency. We haven’t tried GeForce Now now that it’s out of beta, but I was impressed with my experience during the beta several years ago. We’ll have to see for ourselves how GeForce Now performs in the wild.
Nvidia’s GeForce isn’t perfect, and it does have a glaring gap — no 4K streaming.
For one, Nvidia doesn’t offer a 4K game streaming option like Stadia does. Although, the quality of Stadia’s 4K game streams have been questioned by reviewers, where many say that it doesn’t look like true 4K, but rather an upscaled version of a standard 1080p video stream.
Still, whether it’s upscaled or not, 4K gaming is quickly becoming more standard, and it’s a glaring gap in Nvidia’s offering.