What Is Nvidia GeForce Now?

All you need to know about the cloud gaming platform

GeForce Now is a gaming platform devised by NVIDIA that exists only in the cloud. Launched in February 2020, the subscription-based service is kind of like Netflix for games, but it doesn't require you to have fast hardware to play the games. Instead, many older PCs and Macs, and even smartphones and tablets, can play high-end games by streaming the content via NVIDIA GeForce Now. 

Any PC that can run Windows 7 or above can use the Nvidia GeForce Now client. For Mac users, anything from 2009 onwards should be able to use it.

A GeForce Now beta has existed since January 2017 and was one of the early examples of mainstream cloud gaming, with an official launch in February 2020. Users are able to access the games they own on services like Steam before streaming them onto whatever device they possess. Support is available for laptops, desktops, Macs, SHIELD TV, as well as Android tablets and smartphones. 

How Much Does NVIDIA GeForce Now Cost?

NVIDIA GeForce Now currently offers two tiers of membership. There's a free membership plan which limits gaming sessions to one hour, and requires you to queue up to join servers. It's the perfect way to test the service.

There's also a Founders premium tier which still limits your sessions, but to a more generous four hours at a time. Also, you get priority access to gaming servers. It costs $5 per month for 90 days right now, with that price expected to change. 

Nvidia GeForce Now advert with laptop on display and a few games listed including World War Z, Dauntless, and Control

How Does NVIDIA GeForce Now Work?

NVIDIA GeForce Now works a lot like Google Stadia despite having been available for longer than Google's competing service. 

It consists of a network of servers based in huge data centers in North America and Europe. These servers host the GeForce Now game library before sending the information required for the games to your PC, Mac, or tablet. Essentially, the servers do all the hard work that's required to be able to play a game in high-quality before streaming the content to your system which simply needs to have a good enough internet connection to be able to receive the game data. 

NVIDIA recommends a 50Mbit/s internet connection for full 1080/60p stream but it also works at a lower 25Mbit/s connection with 720p resolution, as well as a lower frame rate for connections of 10Mbit/s and above. In most cases, any PC or Mac of under about 10 years old has the correct hardware to be able to run the NVIDIA GeForce Now client which streams the game to you. 

A list of compatible games is available on the NVIDIA website.

The Advantages of NVIDIA GeForce Now

There are a number of advantages to any cloud-based service and NVIDIA GeForce Now is no different. For one thing, it means you can take your game collection wherever you go, so to speak. You don't have to worry about installing huge game files to your system, and you don't have to worry about waiting for large downloads to complete. NVIDIA GeForce Now streams content as and when needed so it's instant. 

Nvidia GeForce Now advert with many games listed

If you downgrade your PC or Mac, you should still be able to play games you already own, simply by linking your Steam, Epic or UPlay account and streaming it. That way, if you own a game, you can still access it, unlike other subscription services which have limited libraries leaving you never technically owning a game. 

The Disadvantages of NVIDIA GeForce Now

NVIDIA GeForce Now isn't perfect. Since its launch, certain companies have removed all their games from the service, meaning you can't stream them via GeForce Now. These include titles from Activision Blizzard (which owns the likes of the Call of Duty series and World of Warcraft), as well as Bethesda (best known for The Elder Scrolls series and Fallout franchise), along with 2K Games (known for Borderlands and BioShock). However, there are still many very popular games available on the service. 

NVIDIA GeForce Now also relies on a speedy internet connection with generous bandwidth caps. Streaming game data takes a lot of bandwidth and your ISP may limit your speeds if you use too much, lowering the quality of the service. It also means you can't play a game via NVIDIA GeForce Now somewhere where you don't have an internet connection. 

What's Next For NVIDIA GeForce Now?

Like most cloud-gaming services right now, NVIDIA GeForce Now is very promising. There's competition in the field with Google Stadia, as well as Microsoft's upcoming Project xCloud, but NVIDIA seems to have the right idea by relying on games you already own rather than the limited game library of something like Google Stadia. 

Past attempts at game streaming like OnLive have failed but with data centers becoming faster and more reliable, there's definitely a chance for NVIDIA. It mostly depends on if the support continues, and the price stays attractive to consumers.