NVIDIA Launches GeForce NOW Game Streaming Service
The NVIDIA GeForce NOW service streams PC games from the cloud to SHIELD devices at up to Full HD 1080p resolutions at 60 fps. It may be tempting to call GeForce NOW an official re-branding of its GRID game streaming beta, which has been available for free on SHIELD devices up to this point, but we’re told that is not the case. The GRID beta is going away with the launch of GeForce NOW (an update to its SHIELD devices will replace the GRID app with GeForce NOW), but according to NVIDIA, GeForce NOW was re-architected from the ground up using knowledge gleaned from the GRID beta, to provide a better overall experience.
NVIDIA sees GeForce NOW as somewhat of a Netflix for games. There is a small monthly fee of $7.99 (in the US) for a subscription, which gives customers access to a slew of games. There are too many to list here, but top notch titles like Batman: Arkham City, Ultra Street Fighter IV, GRID 2, and many others are included. For a full list of games available with a subscription, see here. NVIDIA plans to continually add new titles to the list as well, and retire old ones that haven’t been getting much playtime. Tuesdays are typically the day that new titles will hit. And signing up for a subscription is just like signing up for a service like Netflix—you’ll have to create an account and input a valid credit card to get started.
In addition to the games included in the subscriptions price, however, NVIDIA will also be offering GeForce NOW users access to AAA-titles on the day of release, for a fee. The games will typically be sold at a regular retail prices, but there’s an additional twist. Not only would users get to play those games via the GeForce NOW streaming service on their SHIELD devices, but they’ll receive a key for playing the game on a PC as well.
You may be wondering if that means that save game data and other DLC will be available on GeForce NOW and the PC, but that is not the case for now. Saved games across SHIELD devices running GeForce NOW, however, will be linked.
To use GeForce NOW, you’ll need to meet a number of requirements. First, you’ll need an NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV, SHIELD portable, or SHIELD tablet (with the latest software updates installed) and a SHIELD-approved 5GHz router. The latest SHIELD Hub app from the Google Play store must be installed. And your broadband connection must offer download speeds of at least 12Mb/s. 20Mb/s is recommended for 720p / 60 FPS quality, and 50Mb/s is recommended for 1080p / 60 FPS. You must also have a 60ms or lower ping time to a GeForce NOW server, though 40ms or lower is recommended. NVIDIA has a web based network tool on their support site, which allows users to test their network before purchasing a SHIELD or signing up for GeForce NOW.
Along with offering better on-screen image quality that other game streaming services and up to 1080p / 60 FPS, one of GeForce NOW’s key differentiators is that it’ll allow game streaming almost instantly. Even if you spring for a massive, AAA title that may require many gigabytes of local storage for a standard PC installation, GeForce NOW will be able to stream it in only a few seconds. On a 25Mb broadband connection, for example, games like Saints Row IV, GRID: Autosport, Shadow or Mordor, and Batman Arkham Knight can be streamed in around 30 seconds. Downloading and installing those games on a PC could take multiple hours.
We spent some time gaming with GeForce NOW and think it's the best game streaming service out there. We tried games like the Witcher 3, Bionic Commando, GRID Autosport, among others, using a fast broadband connection (110Mb up / 30Mb down) and an Asus RT-AC68U router, and were impressed. We experienced a bit of stutter with the Witcher 3, but the other titles ran smoothly and responsiveness was surprisingly good. And image quality is excellent. Check out the video above to see what some of the triple-A titles looks like while streaming...
Accessing existing games or buying new titles is all handled through the SHIELD Hub. NVIDIA calls the SHIELD Hub a “one-stop portal to shop for new and exciting SHIELD-optimized Android games, catch up on all the gaming related news, stream PC games from your GeForce gaming PC, and access media apps installed on your tablet.” The SHIELD Hub is pre-installed on every new SHIELD device once the latest updates have been installed, and it also is available for free via the Google Play store. In the SHIELD Hub, you’ll find the GeForce NOW app, the Gamestream app, and other SHIELD optimized apps as well.
NVIDIA GeForce NOW will be available immediately in North America, the European Union, Eastern Europe, Western Russia, and Japan. Servers are available in multiple locations worldwide and users will be automatically connected to the server that is closest to them to deliver the best possible streaming experience. More GeForce NOW services will also be added over time to improve latency in other regions as well.