Another company has entered the cloud gaming fray. U.S.-based Nvidia launched its own service, GeForce Now, on Tuesday. The chipmaker has been testing its cloud gaming platform since January 2018 before Google and Microsoft announced their projects in the sector.
Users can now test drive Nvidia’s service, which comes with two tiers of membership. The free tier allows gamers to play for one hour at a time. For $4.99, players get six uninterrupted hours. Compared to the price of other cloud gaming services, Nvidia’s is a steal.
GeForce doesn’t come with any games, but it does enable people to play free titles, such as Fortnite, League of Legends, and Destiny 2. Players have to purchase any other games through an online store, like Steam.
The Next Wave in Gaming
Cloud gaming is likely to change video gaming forever. The technology enables people to play console-quality titles without an actual system or PC. Instead, they can play on handheld devices, like smartphones or tablets, anywhere in the world.
Cloud gaming reduces many of the barriers to entry that non-gamers currently face. Console gaming costs rack up quickly with new systems retailing for several hundred dollars even years after their initial launch dates. The games themselves can cost up to $60 a pop. And that’s before purchasing ancillary hardware for online gaming or extra controllers.
Cloud gaming eliminates the need for high-powered, expensive consoles. Google Stadia currently costs $9.99 per month before associated hardware. The company does plan to launch a free tier in the future. Sony’s Playstation Now also costs $9.99. Microsoft is still testing its Project xCloud service and has not published pricing yet.
Can Nvidia Compete?
The question is whether or not Nvidia can compete against industry incumbents and tech behemoths with large pocketbooks. The chipmaker certainly thinks there is room to compete.
GeForce Now vice president Phil Eisler said, “We view cloud gaming as a journey. We’ve been at it for about five years. It’s not an easy technology to get to scale and working with publishers is not easy to scale either. We think we’re the best choice for PC games.”
Nvidia’s service is available for Chromebook, Mac, PC, TV, and mobile. According to early trials, GeForce appears to work well as long as gamers have access to strong WiFi. Of the 300,000 people who have tested the service, 80% have done so on platforms that would otherwise not support console gaming.
Compared to other services, GeForce is also unique in that it works well for MacOS, a less popular platform for gaming. MacOS offers limited support for outside graphics cards, which makes immersive, next-gen gaming difficult to support.
At a time when eSports and mobile gaming are all also on the rise, it will be interesting to see if cloud gaming can gain footing as a desirable form of entertainment for the masses. The underlying technology needs are intense. But, if companies like Nvidia, Google, and Playstation can get it right, we may be playing tomorrow’s best titles wherever and whenever we want.