NVIDIA is taking GeForce NOW out of beta as the company prepares to launch a membership program for the cloud gaming service.
“GeForce NOW taps into the thriving PC gaming ecosystem by streaming games from our world-class NVIDIA GPUs in the cloud,” reads a statement from NVIDIA regarding the service. “We’ve spent the last decade building GeForce NOW to be the premier PC gaming experience in the cloud and have been fine-tuning the experience during the beta for the past two years. Every millisecond of the process has been optimized to reduce latency while maintaining performance, to a point where it’s negligible for most gamers.”
GeForce NOW is similar to other cloud services such as Google Stadia. That is to say that it allows you to access a high-end server that you’ll use to play a host of games across a variety of devices that range from desktops to smartphones. As NVIDIA put it, “It’s like plugging a GeForce GPU into your device, upgrading your local hardware into a state-of-the-art GeForce gaming PC in the cloud.”
The service distinguishes itself from the competition in a few different ways, though. First off, GeForce NOW supports titles from Steam, Uplay, and other popular online stores. That means you won’t have to purchase the game again via this service as long as the game in question is supported by GeForce NOW. So far as that goes, GeForce is regularly adding games to its growing list of supported titles. You can also access over a thousand additional titles via a single-install process.
GeForce NOW will also support ray tracing via RTX ON. Wolfenstein: Youngblood and Metro Exodus are referenced as two supported titles that will be able to utilize this feature, but it seems the hope is that future ray tracing-compatible games added to the service will also be able to support that feature via cloud play.
That brings us to the question of membership. GeForce NOW does offer a free tier membership options, but it comes with a few catches. Free members don’t get priority access to the service, which could mean some wait times. Furthermore, you’ll only be able to access the service for an hour at a time. Once that hour is up, you’ll need to save your progress and log-on again.
There’s also a premium “Founders” tier that is currently being offered for $4.99 a month for 12 months, but you’ll also be able to enjoy your first three months for free. Along with priority access to the service, a premium membership allows you to stay logged in for up to six hours at a time and utilize the previously mentioned ray tracing features for supported games.
The official launch of this service is yet another example of how we’re quickly entering the cloud gaming era. Stadia is already out there, and Microsoft and Sony are actively working on their own cloud services. It remains to be seen if the cloud will every truly replace consoles and other hardware, but we certainly seem to be inching closer and closer in that direction.