Geforce Now Is Built for Gamers With Backlogs

More ways to play what you already like

Key Takeaways

  • GeForce Now is Nvidia’s answer to cloud gaming services like Google Stadia and Shadow.
  • Unlike some game streaming services, GeForce Now relies on you to own the games already, making it perfect for users with a backlog.
  • Support for ray-tracing and higher-end graphics features make GeForce Now one of the better cloud gaming options out there right now.

It’s not perfect, but GeForce Now more than justifies its price, so long as you aren’t looking for the "Netflix of video games."

At $10 a month, and featuring a fairly limited library, Nvidia GeForce Now doesn’t have much to offer those who already subscribe to services like Amazon Luna. But, if you’re just looking for new ways to play PC games you already own on more devices, then GeForce Now could be worth the monthly investment.

"GeForce now offers up a slightly different approach than what you'd expect from a streaming service," Josh Chambers, an editor at HowToGame, explained in an email interview. "First off, you can start using GeForce Now for free. This is limited to one hour play sessions, but to stream your games to a PC, Mac, or even your phone and not have to purchase expensive internal components, it is [impressive]."

Surprisingly Adept

While the free version of GeForce Now is definitely worth checking out, the Priority subscription is where you’ll really see the service shine. While it recently has doubled from the original $5 founder’s price, GeForce Now Priority gives you unlimited playtime and support for ray-tracing and other high-end visual effects that aren’t available on other cloud gaming services.

You don't buy games through an Nvidia platform. You actually access approved games from your various libraries such as Steam or Uplay.

This means you can play games like Watch Dogs Legion or Cyberpunk 2077 and experience the addition of ray-traced lighting, reflections, and other visual upgrades that are made possible with RTX-powered Nvidia graphics cards.

In my tests, the results were surprisingly good, and both Cyberpunk and Watch Dogs Legion managed to run smoothly despite running on completely maxed out settings. A dedicated gaming rig with one of the latest RTX cards from Nvidia had issues getting both games to run smoothly using the same settings.

Child sits on sofa plays with smartphone and game controller
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I even tested running the two games on my iPhone 11—which doesn’t have an officially supported GeForce Now app—and was able to play them relatively well, despite some small hitches in the graphics here and there. It compared well with other subscription-based services like Shadow, which admittedly has a broader selection of supported games, but doesn’t have the support for ray-tracing and other features built-in.

If you’re someone who's just looking for a good cloud-based gaming alternative, then other game streaming services like Shadow might be more your speed. If you want to take advantage of ray-tracing, though, GeForce Now is the best you’re going to find at the moment.

Some Assembly Required

"You don't buy games through an Nvidia platform," Chambers told Lifewire. "You actually access approved games from your various libraries such as Steam or Uplay. This means, technically, if your favorite titles have already been purchased, you can get going for free."

By linking your accounts, you can access hundreds of those same titles you’ve always enjoyed playing. However, while it’s nice to have easy access to those games, there are some limits. 

Not every game in your library will appear available to play in the service, for example, but you can easily search for titles within the app to see if they're supported. Most of the bigger games are available, and adding them to your GeForce Now library is as simple as clicking a button.

There are a few hoops you’ll need to jump through, though. You’ll need to sync your Steam account, and log into any other accounts you want to use. The app didn’t seem to save login credentials when switching between games from Uplay and the Epic Games Store, meaning I had to enter the password anytime I changed games. This could potentially get annoying if you do a lot of game hopping, but if you tend to jump into a game for a few hours at a time, you shouldn’t notice much of an issue.

The biggest problem GeForce Now has is its limited library. But, if you’re someone who enjoys replaying some of your favorite games, and you’re just looking for another way to do that, Nvidia’s cloud gaming service is worth every penny. If you want to play the latest games without paying for them outright, there are other services worth checking out.

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