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NVIDIA GeForce NOW Initial Thoughts and Review

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Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

Setup, Game Selection

Yesterday NVIDIA officially announced the new GeForce NOW streaming game service, the conclusion to the years-long beta and development process known as NVIDIA GRID. As I detailed on my story yesterday about the reveal, GeForce NOW is a $7.99/mo. subscription service that will offer on-demand, cloud-streamed games to NVIDIA SHIELD devices, including a library of 60 games for that $7.99/mo. fee in addition to 7 titles in the “purchase and play” category. There are several advantages that NVIDIA claims make GeForce NOW a step above any other streaming gaming service including PlayStation Now, OnLive and others. Those include load times, resolution and frame rate, combined local PC and streaming game support and more.

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I have been able to use and play with the GeForce NOW service on our SHIELD Android TV device in the office for the last few days and I thought I would quickly go over my initial thoughts and impressions up to this point.

Setup and Availability

If you have an NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV (or a SHIELD Tablet) then the setup and getting started process couldn’t be any simpler for new users. An OS update is pushed that changes the GRID application on your home screen to GeForce NOW and you can sign in using your existing Google account on your Android device, making payment and subscription simple to manage. Once inside the application you can easily browse through the included streaming games or look through the smaller list of purchasable games and buy them if you so choose.

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Playing a game is as simple and selecting title from the grid list and hitting play.

Game Selection

Let’s talk about that game selection first. For $7.99/mo. you get access to 60 titles for unlimited streaming. I have included a full list below, originally posted in our story yesterday, for reference.

Continue reading my initial thoughts and an early review of GeForce NOW!!

Included Games Purchase and Play Games
Alan Wake Metro 2033 Redux
Alan Wake: American Nightmare Metro: Last light Redux
Astebreed Resident Evil: Revelations 2
Batman: Arkham Asylum Saints Row IV
Batman: Arkham City Saints Row: Gat out of Hell
Batman: Arkham Origins The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Bionic Commando Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power
BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger  
Borderlands  
Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons  
Brutal Legend  
Darksiders  
Darksiders 2  
Dead Island  
Dead Island: Riptide  
Dead Rising 2  
Devil May Cry 4  
DIRT 3  
Dirt Showdown  
Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara  
F.E.A.R. 3  
F1 2010  
Gas Guzzlers: Extreme  
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams  
GRID 2  
GRID Autosport  
Guilty Gear X2  
Homefront  
La-Mulana  
LEGO Batman  
LEGO Batman 2 DC Super Heroes  
LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4  
LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7  
LEGO Hobbit  
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes  
LEGO Movie: The Videogame  
LEGO The Lord of the Rings  
MotoGP14  
MX vs ATV Reflex  
Orcs Must Die!  
Overlord II  
PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate  
Pixeljunk Shooter  
Psychonauts  
Race Driver Grid  
Red Faction Guerrilla  
Red Faction: Armageddon  
Revolver360 RE:ACTOR  
Risen 2 Dark Waters  
Sacred Citadel  
Saints Row 3  
Stacking  
Street Fighter X Tekken  
Strider  
The Raven - Legacy of a Master Thief  
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter  
The Walking Dead: Season 1  
The Witcher 2: Assassins Of Kings  
Toybox Turbos  
Ultra Street Fighter IV  

There are some quality titles in here, including Borderlands, Batman: Arkham City, GRID Autosport, a host of LEGO titles and even Ultra Street Fighter IV. A quick scroll over the table above shows you games for kids and for adults, games in the racing genre, fighting games, action games, co-op titles, first person shooters, puzzle games and more. There really should be something for just about anyone on this list.

The problem of course is that most of these titles are old. Alan Wake was a unique PC game but it was released in early 2012.  Borderlands is an amazing first person shooter and loot game but was released in late 2009. I am a firm believer that age doesn’t negate the value of a game or your ability to enjoy it, just that many of the dedicated GeForce and SHIELD enthusiasts may already own or have already played through the titles that interest them.

One advantage to that list of free/included games is that if you have new gamers, be it a brother or a child that you are trying to introduce to some new genres or properties, GeForce NOW is a great way to bring them this 60 game library at a very low cost. And, if you are a dedicated gamer but find yourself pining over the experiences you had on some of these games from years ago, $7.99/mo. is a fair price to be able to play them anytime you want.

A bit disappointingly, the purchase and play list is small – there are only 7 games available for the launch of GeForce NOW. And only one of them, in my opinion, is a “flagship” title that is going to get attention from the PC gaming crowd. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an excellent game that many people have sunk 100+ hours into, with an open world RPG spin that is engaging and gorgeous. But Metro 2033, Saints Row IV and Resident Evil: Revelations 2 are just not very compelling or exciting titles to spend money on. To my surprise, I definitely enjoyed my time with the beautiful and whimsical Trine 3 though I fear many gamers will write it off prematurely.

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NVIDIA needs to expand on both of these lists before they are going to create a service that drives people to sign up for it. The free/included games list is solid now but as the month’s progress they need to add titles to it, keeping those they do get to sign up paying each and every month. And the for-purchase titles need to be expanded even more quickly, especially if NVIDIA wants to claim GeForce NOW is a competitor to the current gaming consoles.

Speed and Loading Times

One of the big advantages that GeForce NOW offers over traditional PC games as well as other online streaming services is the amount of time it takes to get a game up and running. Having never played The Witcher 3 on GeForce NOW previously, I selected the game and hit play – within 30 seconds I was at the start up screens for the game. In that time the server had received my request, loaded up a new game and sent it back for me to begin engaging with.

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NVIDIA estimates a game the size of Batman: Arkham Knight would take you more than 3 hours to download over Steam with 25 mbps broadband. With GeForce NOW, you can select that game and be playing within 30 seconds. It’s actually an impressive feat and shows off why cloud-based streaming services, whether it be gaming or video or even audio, are so popular in today’s “need it now” market. Don’t want to wait 1.5 hours for GRID Autosport to download? Load up GeForce NOW and be playing within 30 seconds. Obviously there are other tradeoffs with this streaming platform, but access and availability are definitely a perk.


October 1, 2015 | 10:42 AM - Posted by nevzim (not verified)

I believe it will be great vehicle to get people back into gaming.

October 4, 2015 | 07:24 PM - Posted by BlackDove (not verified)

Bad for people who like to own things instead of "as a service".

October 1, 2015 | 12:23 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

For those of us with Data Caps, how much data were you using per hour for example?

October 1, 2015 | 02:37 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

It can only pull data as fast as your downstream limit (up to 50 Mbit), but up to that point, it would be as long as you could max your connection before hitting your data cap (streaming or not). 50 Mbit workout to roughly 1/2 TB per day.

October 1, 2015 | 01:14 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

For those of us on a capped connection, how much gigabytes does it take to stream a game for an hour?

October 1, 2015 | 03:56 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

According to Wolfram Alpha says 40 mbps for an hour is 18 gigabytes.

http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=40+mbps+for+an+hour

October 1, 2015 | 04:07 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

You can only play 13 hrs on a 250gb cap.

October 8, 2015 | 04:26 AM - Posted by Esa (not verified)

You can just Google "40 megabits per second in gigabytes per hour" for the same result.

October 1, 2015 | 05:20 PM - Posted by Patrick3D (not verified)

Ummm, can one of the editors re-read the story please, right on the front page is this gem:

"Play a game is as simple and selecting title from the grid list and hitting play."

October 1, 2015 | 07:22 PM - Posted by Tucker Smith (not verified)

Maybe it'll someday grow into a primary method of game distribution, but with titles like these, it's merely a fine supplemental solution to a gamer's inventory. It is priced accordingly, however. The ability to stream your games might be worth the price of admission. I mean, at this point, It seems like an i3-6100 and a 950 at the monitor, and a Shield on the living room TV is the everyman's way to game.

I'm transitioning off last-gen consoles and just need more productivity from my technological dollar than they can provide. I'm not a power user but I'd still like to further transition into a VR shell, my flesh become a dormant vessel, bridged into a supplicant universe through copper and silicon while the waking world molts like an outgrown husk by Q3 2017.

The next i5 and a $300 Pascal something-or-other ti seem to be the upgrade path to achieve it.

October 3, 2015 | 10:29 PM - Posted by Byron (not verified)

Would be interesting if any of you guys could test this under a "normal" internet connection. Maybe say 20mb to 50mb down?? I am not sure what is the typical speed from the ISP, but certainly most people does not have Google Fiber.

October 8, 2015 | 04:33 AM - Posted by Esa (not verified)

Average US internet speed is 12Mbit, so this review wasn't really at all realistic. Even South Korea is at "only" 25Mbit on average.

That said, we do get unlimited 300Mbit 4G LTE for $50 here in Finland :D

March 3, 2017 | 03:14 AM - Posted by Pc (not verified)

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October 6, 2015 | 02:18 PM - Posted by Joakim L (not verified)

Excellent review Ryan.

October 8, 2015 | 04:21 AM - Posted by Esa (not verified)

I'm very surprised they haven't contacted the indie community almost at all. Yes, Trine 3 and PixelJunk are indie games, but that's pretty much it, from what I can tell.
You'd think this would be perfect for small indie games that don't require very low ping or massive bandwidth.

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