Setup, Game Selection

We got to spend some time with the GeForce NOW streaming game service. Does it rate?

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.

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.

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.

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  
Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons  
Brutal Legend  
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  
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  
MX vs ATV Reflex  
Orcs Must Die!  
Overlord II  
PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate  
Pixeljunk Shooter  
Race Driver Grid  
Red Faction Guerrilla  
Red Faction: Armageddon  
Revolver360 RE:ACTOR  
Risen 2 Dark Waters  
Sacred Citadel  
Saints Row 3  
Street Fighter X Tekken  
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.

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.

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.

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