Nvidia today revealed it’s launching the GeForce Now streaming service for all North American and European users. Now we might finally have a cloud gaming service worth trying — yeah, I said it.
Nvidia has been working on the service for years now, and it’s finally out of the beta phase. Like other cloud gaming services out there, it claims to offer you the chance to play your PC games on other devices. When you launch a game within GeForce Now, it’ll be running on Nvidia’s cloud servers, and streamed to the device in question, allowing you to pick up and play them from supported devices without loading or any of that nonsense.
Naturally, the immediate comparison to draw is to Google Stadia, which almost feels unfair to Stadia. The latter is trying to push itself as a proper storefront service, while GeForce Now streams games you already own. It links with your existing libraries — it currently connects with Steam, the Epic Store, Battlenet, and Uplay — and allows you to stream supported games to the device of your choosing. Not every game is supported yet, but it’s a decently-sized list. You can check to see if your game is included here.
Currently there are two options for potential users: Standard, the free version, and Founders, the premium option. Admittedly the free version doesn’t sound like much: you can only play for one-hour sessions, though there doesn’t seem to be a limit on how many sessions you can play. You just have to stop every hour and open a new session, the modern version of your arcade game demanding more quarters. Founders subscribers will have sessions up to 6 hours in length, and have priority access to the next server session after their current one ends. It also has a 90-day free trial period, and is available for $4.99 a month for the remainder of the year. That’s the same price as an Apple Arcade subscription — that seems like a pretty good deal to me, assuming the price stays the same after the year is up.
Instantly play the most demanding PC games seamlessly across all your devices. ?️???
Join the service and start playing for free or upgrade your membership for some extra spicy perks like RTX ON. ?
— NVIDIA GeForce NOW (@NVIDIAGFN) February 4, 2020
That said, I suspect GeForce might fall victim to that one problem that bedevils all cloud gaming services: you have to have a very solid internet connection in order to take full advantage of it. One part of the reveal mentions the service supports high-level graphics, including ray tracing. I almost choked when I saw that, because I do not want to try and stream ray tracing with my fairly pedestrian internet. I’ll get back to you on just what that kind of middle-of-the-road connection looks like with GeForce, but otherwise I’m rather hopeful.
To test it out, I plan to try Cuphead. I love this game, but have never been able to make it all the way to the end because it bricks my whole computer after a period of time. I’ve never been able to find out why, and after a while I moved on to other games. But I want to try it on a cloud server and see if that makes a difference — I will catch this white whale, this I swear.
The GeForce Now app, which is required to play the games, is available for Windows, Mac, Android, and Shield TV devices. You can sign up for GeForce Now on Nvidia’s website here.