GeForce Now is Pretty Wild — Games as a Service
When I’ve first heard of GeForce Now I sighed and thought to myself — “Yet another Steam Link thingy?” Turns out I was only half right.
I’ve received my GeForce Now beta access on October 16th of last year (2019), a few weeks after requesting access. Not knowing exactly what it was about, I discarded it for a bit. Fast forward to this last week, I’ve been researching some solutions for streaming my games across my (increasingly) smart home and stumbled upon GeForce Now for Android. I was expecting to have to set up my home PC to stream my games, leave it on, only be able to play at home on my 5GHz WiFi, and so on.
So, instead, my experience went a bit like this:
- Install the GeForce Now app from Google Play Store;
- Login on the GeForce Now app using my Nvidia account;
- Search for any game, in my case Batman: Arkham Knight, a game I enjoyed playing on PC, despite its weak launch on the platform due to optimization issues;
- After a brief loading, I’m granted what looks like a Virtual Machine access with Steam, where I input my Steam credentials (only needed the first time);
- All the VMs must have all the game files accessible because it was instantly ready to play — just had to press the Play button;
- There I am, playing Batman: Arkham Knight on my mobile device, automatically loading my Steam cloud savegame and using the GeForce Now virtual on-screen controller. If I had a physical controller at hand I’m sure the experience would be even more mind-blowing.
In reality, what this means is that I’m able to play pretty much any game I own instantly, on any device I install GeForce Now. I don’t need to have my PC turned on and set up at home, I don’t need to have the game installed on it, technically I don’t even need to own a PC.
In terms of performance, the game was very playable with some minor framerate and quality drops. Of course, it all depends on your connection quality. Since it’s just a VM feel free to change the in-game settings. I suggest disabling Blur, for example, since it generally means loss of quality when it comes to streaming.
Other use cases may include installing GeForce Now for Windows, which is a ~70MB download, on my very weak and old laptop while I’m away. Then I can play some quick ARAMs on League of Legends and do my daily quests on Guild Wars 2, games that become instantly available on the go without the hassle of installing and updating them, weighing 9.60GB and 45GB respectively. The performance of the device in question is pretty much irrelevant since my 150€ phone from February 2018 doesn’t even heat up as much as in some native Android games.
So, in conclusion, I highly suggest trying it if you get access. No doubt the pricing might be a major turnoff when it finally releases, but until then the beta is completely free.
If you’re strictly looking to stream your gaming PC at home, I suggest looking into Parsec, Moonlight and Steam Link instead.
As a disclaimer I’m a pretty demanding gamer, I enjoy gaming on my PC at 3440*1440@120 and all that jazz. It doesn’t compare, obviously, and while I haven’t tried other services like Google Stadia, I truly believe this is the future of gaming for a lot of people that don’t have or need powerful hardware. It will only get better with higher connection speeds and encoding improvements.