After a beta period lasting over two years, NVIDIA’s GeForce Now cloud gaming platform opened up to all gamers yesterday. Using the might of NVIDIA’s server network, GeForce Now streams games at up to 1080p/60fps on an array of devices.
Here’s how NVIDIA describes it;
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.
Through GeForce Now, users can play games they already own by linking up to existing libraries on storefronts like Steam, Origin, and the like.
As it stands, GeForce Now is compatible with hundreds of automatically patched and updated games from over 50 publishers. NVIDIA will be adding more games weekly ‘based on member requests, game popularity, and publishers’ input.’ There’s also a healthy selection of free-to-play titles too.
GeForce Now features a two-tiered membership arrangement. Members can join the free tier and access free one-hour sessions. There’s no cap on the number of sessions, and avoiding the restriction is a case of keeping on eye on the time limit, then exiting and relaunching the game as required.
The premium ‘Founders’ tier costs slightly less than $5 a month (the first three months are free as part of a limited time offer). Benefits include priority access to servers, play sessions up to six hours, and RTX-enabled graphics in supported games.
Lured by the free membership, I took GeForce Now on a trial run. The results are nothing short of glorious.
I duly jumped through the sign-up hoops, I installed the client on a Mac to put the service through its paces, and linked up Origin. My broadband connections peaks at around 20 Mbps. Apex Legends was the game.
I darted around as Lifeline trying my best not to let my squad mates down at 720p/ 60 FPS with the graphical settings maxed out on a crusty old Mac with no stuttering or performance issues whatsoever. Doing so felt almost surreal, a glimpse at the cloud gaming future that we’ve been promised for so long.
While many will relate this experience to that of using Google Stadia, NVIDIA already has the upper hand thanks to the ‘open platform’ approach and free membership tier. It’s everything Stadia currently isn’t.
Stadia is expensive from the get-go – a Founder’s Edition costs $130 – and is only available on a slim selection of devices. Then, you have to factor in paying extortionate prices for a meager roster of games that launched on other platforms months if not years ago. Yes, a free Stadia tier is on the way, but who knows when? Google’s silence doesn’t help and fervent supporters are starting to lose faith.
On the other hand, with GeForce Now you can pick up a recent game on the cheap in a Steam sale and play it at no additional cost. The service has been tested for over two years and comes to the public in a fully formed state with a service proposition that cleverly offers a solution to the tedious task of keeping up to date with the system requirements of latest games.