Nvidia opens next chapter of cloud gaming with GeForce Now, set to challenge Google's...

Julio Franco

TechSpot Editor
Staff member

It’s not often you find something that people do just for fun to be tremendously impactful from both a revenue and technology perspective, but that’s exactly the case for the many options that people are going to have for playing games over the internet.

Gaming has become a huge global phenomenon, and interest in gaming across multiple devices has grown tremendously—a point that my 2019 study on Multi-Device Gaming made abundantly clear (see “PCs and Smartphones Duke it Out for Gaming Champion” for more). As a result, companies are eager to create solutions that can tap into the enormous interest in gaming in a way that gives consumers more flexibility (and better performance) than they’ve had before.

Not surprisingly, graphics chip leader Nvidia has been involved with several of these efforts, but none as directly as its own GeForce Now game streaming service, which just became generally available across the US and several other nations around the world starting today.

The basic idea with GeForce Now—which has been in a private beta period for several years—is that it enables people to play high-quality, graphically intensive PC games across a range of different devices including PCs, Macs, Android Phones, Nvidia’s own Shield device, and certain smart TVs via an internet connection. Support for Chrome-based devices is expected later this year.

Importantly, the games are running on cloud-based servers in Nvidia’s (or a few regional partners’) own dedicated data centers and are powered by the company’s high-end GeForce GPUs. As a result, the quality of the gaming experience is nearly what you’d expect it to be on one of today’s best dedicated gaming PCs. However, you can achieve that quality consistently on any of the different device types—even on older devices without any dedicated graphics acceleration hardware. Plus, you have the ability to start a game on one device and then pick up where you left off on another one, a capability that my previously mentioned research suggests is eagerly prized by many gamers.

Technologically, Nvidia is leveraging its ability to virtualize GPUs in its data centers and is using a variety of compression techniques and screen-sharing protocols to deliver remote access to its super-powered cloud-based computers. One nice improvement that the company is bringing to the GeForce Now service with its public launch is the ability to support its RTX real-time ray tracing technology (in games that use it). Until now, that capability has only been found in their highest end graphics cards, like the RTX 2080, so this should bring it to a much wider audience.

Nvidia is taking an interesting, and different, approach to the games available on the GeForce Now platform than some of the other cloud-based game services that have been announced. Because it’s actually running PC games on PC hardware, it allows customers of the service to play their existing library of PC games—they simply have to provide proof of ownership of the title and they can access it via their GeForce account. In addition, there are hundreds of free-to-play games, and consumers can use their existing PC game store accounts. Also, because it’s all being stored and run in the cloud, game patches and driver updates (two common banes of PC gamers’ existence) are taken care of automatically, without any interventions on the user’s part. In other words, Nvidia is trying to make the process of using the service as seamless as possible for both casual and hardcore PC gamers.

From a pricing perspective, the company is providing two options with its public launch. You can have an unlimited number of up to 1 hour gaming sessions for free, or you can sign-up for the $4.99/month Founders account (the first three months are free), which gives you priority access to the service, lets you have up to 6-hour sessions, and turns on the RTX ray-tracing support.

In some ways, you could argue that GeForce Now is a bit of a risky business proposition for Nvidia, because, if enough consumers find the service to be sufficient for their needs, they could end up buying less dedicated gaming hardware. Plus, given the high cost of building out and maintaining the data centers necessary to run GeForce Now, especially in comparison to its very low pricing, it seems like profitability could be a challenge—at least initially.

Ultimately, though, Nvidia seems confident that GeForce Now won’t replace dedicated gaming PCs for hard-core gamers and could even entice more casual gamers to better appreciate what high-quality PC gaming experiences can enable, which may in turn get them to purchase their own dedicated PC gaming rigs as well. If that proves to be the case, it could end up being a nice bit of incremental revenue as well as a technological showcase for what the best of PC gaming can offer.

Bob O’Donnell is the founder and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a technology consulting and market research firm. You can follow him on Twitter . This article was originally published on Tech.pinions.

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JKnight

TS Booster
Companies think consumers are cash cows. Do you think people are going to subscribe to all these cloud gaming services?
 

JimboJoneson

TS Addict
"... As a result, the quality of the gaming experience is nearly what you’d expect it to be on one of today’s best dedicated gaming PCs. ..."

Nearly the same as what you get on one of today's best dedicated gaming PCs? Really?

Somehow I don't think anyone will be tossing out their close loop cooled 9900k @ 5.2ghz and a 2080ti with anti-lag features enabled, to use their 240hz panel with cloud gaming ... and NVidia obviously knows this or they wouldn't be doing this service.

So I wonder where that remark came from ... NVidia? a beta tester? This article's author? I would laugh if Nvidia is actually saying this, but it would be par for the course. Perhaps Julio can enlighten us. :)
 
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JimboJoneson

TS Addict
Companies think consumers are cash cows. Do you think people are going to subscribe to all these cloud gaming services?
Same with all the streaming services ... they think they can all get a piece of the pie by buying entire franchises then making their platform exclusive for that franchise. Sure we can all afford, Netflix, Amazon, Disney, CBS all access, etc. etc. etc. We can all afford at least 10 ... right? Just hook up the milk machine direct to my teats, why don't you?

I predict a skyrocketing of media piracy will be the direct result of their greed and they deserve it. Greedy *****s is what they all are. At least Netflix was the main pioneer of the service, so I'll remain exclusive to them. The others' "exclusive" content will all be acquired via "alternate methods" - at least for me.
 
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OK tried it out and works on my work Mac with some input lag but you can get used to it for gaming with, say a work laptop or something similar you need to take on a trip. But I'd only do it if I can buy single months, no subscription. I have a gaming rig at home for real gaming but on vacations, trips etc., maybe a game here and there might be nice.
 

Evernessince

地獄らしい人間動物園
$5 a month?

Where do I sign?
Note the few caveats

"it allows customers of the service to play their existing library of PC games—they simply have to provide proof of ownership of the title and they can access it via their GeForce account."

So you have to either own the game or buy it. Better then stadia but that's not saying much. It's still not ideal.

In addition, there is a 6-hour session cap. The pricing is also temporary. Don't expect Nvidia to undercut competitors price-wise in the long term, they are not known for that
 

Red999

TS Rookie
Some of the supported games are windows only.
I wonder how nvidia circumvents expensive microsoft rds licenses
 

Burty117

TechSpot Chancellor
Some of the supported games are windows only.
I wonder how nvidia circumvents expensive microsoft rds licenses
Microsoft and Nvidia probably worked out a decent licensing deal.

Does make me laugh though, GeForce Now, Stadia, AWS, all use Microsoft technology in some way. Microsoft wins regardless.
 
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numnumnum

TS Rookie
GeForce now seems like a really nice option for cloud gaming. At least comparing to Stadia, where you can't use your PC games and have to buy everything again. Probably Microsoft will also not allow to use platforms like Steam in order to sell subscription to Game Pass, but we'll see about that.
 

Lyquidmetal

TS Rookie
This has been a great service for the past 2 years imo.
So you want to game on your mid range laptop? load up geforce now and have a great session.
Going away for a work trip, you still have all your games with you...
 

Porkous

TS Member
It is interesting. I like it.
At maximum bandwidth the quality is really good and the monitor contrast shines. I haven't noticed lags, but once in a blue moon. Actually I joined some casual rooms in CS GO on PC, and those had much more lag (at 250+ becomes slightly noticeable). On the now service, the network test gave good bandwidth score (we got fiber at 100+) and 33 milliseconds without frame loss. Is really only 33ms though? That is unbelievable. Almost any game out there on casual rooms on pc have at least 25ms network delay.

I also noticed that the games feel differently with the slider toward lower bandwidth, is like you are playing a movie and then imagination kicks in. I dunno if is just me, but I used to like games without antialiasing just because I liked the 3d space games are into, and the processing power & all that, with antialiasing it felt as if you played something that tried to look good, but looked a bit plastic.

They would be generous to keep the 1h free forever. I think is just the campaign, and works with the games you own on epic store, for example. Played Division 2 and the experience was almost excellent.
The 1 hour free would kinda promote more of the fortnite, as that is quite the most demanding free game out there. Is quite cool service.
 
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