GeForce Now is a cloud-based game streaming service from Nvidia. The service was launched to the public on February 4, 2020, after seven years of development, including several periods of beta testing. With GeForce Now, users without top-end gaming PCs can stream games they own along with free-to-play games like Fortnite or PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds directly to their PC, Mac, or other devices. Support for Android mobile devices has also been included.
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How Does It Work?
Nvidia utilizes a network of servers in data centers throughout North America and Europe. These servers host and serve the GeForce Now library of games to members. Like many other streaming services, your device connects to the closest server to provide the highest possible quality of streaming.
Once a user downloads the Nvidia GeForce Now application on their computer or mobile device, they access a “virtual computer”. The app syncs to digital distribution platforms (Steam, Epic Games Store, Ubisoft Uplay, etc.) to download a user’s owned games. This technology allows a person without a gaming rig to stream thousands of titles in high resolution on Nvidia Graphics.
The service uses Adaptive Bitrate streaming to scale the quality of the stream based on a user’s available bandwidth. GeForce Now Steam sync maxes out with 1080p at 60 frames per second. Nvidia recommends at least 50 Mbps internet download speeds for optimal performance. Streaming is also available at 720p/60p for download speeds of 25 Mbps and 720p/30p for connections of 10 Mbps.
“GeForce Now instantly transforms nearly any laptop, desktop, Mac, SHIELD TV (and certain Android TVs), or Android mobile devices into the PC gaming rig you’ve always dreamed of, allowing seamless play across your devices.” –Nvidia.com
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Syncing Your Game Library
Before GeForce Now was launched, the service was first known to developers as Nvidia Shield, then as the Nvidia Grid. The original streaming game library was subscription-based, entitling members to unlimited access to a broad collection of titles. This streaming model was discontinued in 2019, following licensing issues with developers and publishers (among them Activision, Blizzard, and Bethesda). The former streaming model transitioned to the current model beginning in June 2020. Nvidia requires developers and publishers to “opt-in” to GeForce Now streaming for each game, alleviating prior licensing issues. Some publishers chose not to make their games available via the cloud-streaming service, while many more opted-in.
Nvidia currently utilizes a “Bring-Your-Own-Games” model. This allows users free access to free-to-play games. For paid games, members use the built-in GeForce Steam sync feature which automatically imports their Steam Library. Games purchased through other digital distribution platforms such as the Epic Games Store, Ubisoft’s Uplay, etc. are also supported.
Each time you save your game, it goes on the cloud. When you’re ready to continue, you can pick back up on any of your connected devices.
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Memberships: Free or Premium?
The good news is you can try GeForce Now for free before deciding whether to join Nvidia’s premium streaming service. Founders is Nvidia’s premium membership and is available for $4.99 a month. As of August 12, 2020, a Special Offer for GeForce Now was available for $24.95 for six months. This offer includes all the benefits of a Founders premium membership as well as two bonus exclusives: A Season One Battle Pass Token for Hyper Scope and the Exclusive Hyper Scope In-Game Content Pack.
For users choosing to try GeForce Now for free before they buy, they can enjoy a one-hour session before returning to the queue. A Founders membership allows for a six-hour game session before returning users to the queue. Another advantage of being a paying member: skipping to the front of the queue, ahead of any free users currently waiting to join a session on the server.
My Experience with GeForce Now
The installation process was straight-forward and more-or-less what I expected. I downloaded the GeForce Now application from Nvidia’s website and followed the installation wizard. After completing the install and logging into my Nvidia account (with multi-step verification), GeForce Now refreshed the “virtual computer”. ‘My Library’ was at the top of the screen with a ‘Sync Your Games’ button below it.
There was one game in my Steam Library, The Witcher 2. I initially purchased it during a Steam sale with hopes of somehow running the game on my old Dell laptop. After a couple of hours of horrendously low framerates, I gave up trying to play.
With GeForce Now Steam sync, my game launched in the app (after an impressively short download time) and warned me I was only on a 2.4 GHz network and Nvidia recommends at least 5 GHz. I turned my TV off, disconnected my phone from the WIFI, and a few minutes later I was in the world of The Witcher, experiencing framerates and gameplay quality I never thought possible for my old Dell laptop.
The Takeaway on Nvidia GeForce Now
For users without the bucks to shell out for a top-end gaming rig, GeForce Now is a great choice. The monthly charge of $4.99 is cheaper than a console subscription and makes it possible to play your favorite games anywhere, anytime whether it’s on your desktop, laptop, or Android device.
Click Here to try out GeForce Now.