Have you ever wanted to play games on your phone? No, I’m not referring to Clash Royale, Game Dev Tycoon 2, or even Call of Duty: Mobile. I’m talking full-on PC quality games, like Code Vein, A Plague Tale: Innocence, and Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. If so, there is an offering available to everyone through GeForce NOW.
What Is This “GeForce NOW”?
Geforce NOW is a game streaming service similar to the likes of Google Stadia. In short, it transmits gameplay from the cloud (in this case, NVIDIA’s servers) to the device of your choice. Currently, they have applications available to access this service on any PC running Windows, macOS, Shield TVs, and even Android phones.
While this news is excellent and a significant step forward for what could be a new age for gaming, there are some curious caveats. One of those concerns is payment. Initially, GeForce NOW was an invitation-only beta service, where all users with access could play their own games via their servers for basically an unlimited time frame. This made it both convenient for the average user and was great for longer sessions of games like Civilization. However, things seem to have changed. According to the website for the service, there are now two tiers for users: a free tier, and a “Founders” tier. The Free level is, as it sounds, free to access and use, but with play sessions being limited to an hour in length. The “Founders” tier, which is currently $5, has priority access, extended gaming session length, and RTX graphics capability.
Wait, something Isn’t Right Here…
The creation of the Founders tier concerns me a bit for a few reasons. For one, the “priority access” will likely mean that regular users will have to wait longer, likely in drawn-out queues. Another primary concern is the “extended length” promise. Considering that Free tier users have 1-hour sessions available to them, how long exactly will paying members to be able to get on. An extra half hour, an hour, 2 hours? Since there is no set time limit, it is unknown what load could look like at any time, which means possibly longer queue time, feeding into problem one.
Lastly, and quite honestly, my biggest issue with the service is the games library. Remember how I mentioned that you could play games you already own? Well, there’s a catch. See, the service DOES let you access games you own, but only CERTAIN games are guaranteed to work as intended. This means its more of a curated selection that you can choose from, with the option to play “unsupported” (basically games not tested and tuned by NVIDIA staff) being kind of there. While not a big issue for a lot of people who have smaller libraries due to low income (which seems to be the target audience based on the price point), it basically alienated those of us with more extensive libraries of games. Hopefully, this is something that can be addressed by NVIDIA staff as more users flock to the service.
My overall hope is that this becomes an example of a streaming service that is handled well and proves the technology works. With the launch of Stadia being a very rocky release (a point I mentioned in my article on Stadia’s Launch Games Lineup)., one can only hope there is an example of game streaming done right.
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