What is GeForce NOW? To put it simply, it's NVIDIA's cloud gaming platform. You use it to stream games to other devices using NVIDIA's hardware.
Letting you play games with high graphics settings without needing a high-end PC.
If you're looking to learn more about NVIDIA GeForce NOW, this guide breaks it all down and attempts to answer any questions you may have.
This is an ongoing piece of content and will be updated accordingly when there are changes to the service.
What is NVIDIA GeForce NOW and when is it available?
As noted above GeForce NOW is NVIDIA's answer to a cloud gaming platform. It's been working on it for a few years now, though it has only ever been available as a closed beta.
That all changed this month when NVIDIA finally launched the service out of beta and made it available to everyone.
So when is it available? Right this very moment. You can sign up for the service whenever you have time and immediately start playing games. Keep in mind that GeForce NOW may not be available in your region.
Officially, the service has only launched in the US and in Europe. Though NVIDIA also states that the service is up and running through alliance partners in Russia, Korea, and Japan.
How much does it cost?
There are two tiers of GeForce NOW that are available. One of those tiers is free of charge. So you can sign up and enjoy games at absolutely no charge. Save for the cost of the game itself.
There is also the Founders tier. This tier costs $5 a month but gives you extra benefits over the free tier. So in addition to paying for your games, you also have the $5 monthly fee to pay. You do however get the first 90 days of access for free.
Compared to Stadia Pro at $10 a month, it might be a little more cost-friendly for some users. This is also considering that GeForce NOW doesn't require to buy into the service with a $130 bundle like Stadia.
It works off of your existing hardware. Whether that be a phone, a PC, or a tablet.
What devices does GeForce NOW support?
Quite a few, actually. GeForce NOW was designed to work with a wide range of different hardware.
That means you can use it on just about anything. Including a potato PC. Specifically, you can use it on Windows-based desktops and laptops. So, if you've always dreamed of your computer playing high-end games but it just didn't have the specs, now that doesn't have to limit you.
It can also be played on Android smartphones. It'll work on the NVIDIA SHIELD and on Mac desktops and laptops too.
When it comes to Android phones it's also worth noting that almost any Android phone will work. The only requirements are that it have at least 2GB of RAM, support OpenGL ES 3.2, and run on Android 5.0 or later.
You will also need a supported gamepad.
What gamepads work with GeForce NOW?
This is a sort of broad question as it kind of depends on where you play games. If you play on PC, then any gamepad that is supported by that PC should work. I.E. the Xbox One controller, the Steam controller etc.
If you play on Android phones then the list is probably a little bit shorter. With Android phones you can officially use the Razer Junglecat, the SHIELD controller, the Razer Raiju Mobile, the Glap, the SteelSeries XL, the SteelSeries Stratus Duo, the DualShock 4, and the Xbox 360 and Xbox One controllers.
NVIDIA's FAQ page says you need to use a USB OTG cable with the DualShock 4 if you're playing on the phone. This isn't true though. And if you dig a little deeper and go to the support page you'll see that it says both wired and Bluetooth.
You should be able to connect the DualShock 4 to your phone wirelessly through Bluetooth. As that's what I did personally and it worked just fine.
Optionally, you can also likely hook up a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse to your device and that should work for games that require a keyboard and mouse to play.
What games are available on GeForce NOW?
This is a very large list so not all of them will be listed here. The short answer is most games.
GeForce NOW supports a wide variety of games through Steam, Uplay, and other launchers on PC. This is how it accesses games. It pulls from the games you already have in your existing library.
Furthermore, that should also answer any questions about cost. You don't pay NVIDIA directly for game titles. But it will not let you access any games you didn't buy. So if you want to play it, you would need to have purchased through Steam or elsewhere.
When it comes to accessing games from Steam, some will not be shown or listed in the GeForce NOW app on Android. However, once you log into your Steam account through the GeForce NOW app, you can select from one of the titles that are shown, and then simply back out to your Steam library and select any game you wish.
This is because NVIDIA is simply accessing your Steam account through the Steam remote play feature. As for games from other launchers, you can play titles like The Division 2, Fortnite, Kingdom Come: Deliverance and more.
Is there first-party content?
No. You won't find any first-party content with GeForce NOW because it in itself is not really the platform. Not in the way that Stadia is technically a new platform. GeForce NOW is merely the vessel, letting you access the games you already own from other stores.
If there's first-party content for that store, then it may be available through GeForce NOW. Borderlands 3 is a good example of this. It's currently only available from the Epic Games Store. You can play it on GeForce NOW.
So in a round about way there are first-party exclusives. But not like PlayStation 4 or the Epic Games Store have exclusives.
What are the requirements to use the service?
When it comes to requirements there isn't a massive list, but you will still need to hit the basics.
You obviously need an internet connection for it to work. Connection speeds need to be at least 15Mbps for 720p resolution with 30fps for the frame rate. If you want 1080p resolution with 60 fps for the frame rate, then you need a connection speed of at least 25Mbps.
You also need to connect the device physically with an ethernet cable, or, you can play using wireless if you're connected to a 5GHz wireless router. This means you may not be able to play games on GeForce now on some public Wi-Fi hotspots if the router isn't 5GHz. At the very least the experience may not be as good.
That's pretty much it. If you're playing on Windows there are no software requirements really or hardware requirements. Meaning you don't need to use a specific type of display and you don't need a minimum of 16GB of RAM.
Android does however have some requirements as noted above. You need a device with at least 2GB of RAM, and the device has to run Android 5.0 or later and support OpenGL ES 3.2 or later.
Do you need any special equipment?
Yes and no. It is recommended that you have a 5GHz router. And of course you will need a PC or Android smartphone to connect to the service from.
You do not however need any specialized equipment that is meant for GeForce NOW only. The service was designed to work with your existing hardware. So you likely already have a controller that's compatible and a device to play games on.
Many routers are also 5GHz these days, so plenty of users will be set here too.
How do you set up GeForce NOW?
Setup is pretty simple and doesn't take long to do. We put together a nice little guide on how to get everything going here.
You'll need a few things, like an NVIDIA account, a controller or some form of peripheral for controlling the games, and you need to sign up for a GeForce NOW membership which you can do from the main website.
You also need to have the Android app installed on your phone if you're playing on your phone, or the program installed on your PC of choice. Once you have everything in place you can start playing games right away.
What are the features?
The feature list is pretty small. But, there are some nice perks to look out for.
If you're a Founders member, you'll get the RTX ON feature. Which lets you play games that take advantage of ray tracing through NVIDIA's powerful 2080 graphics cards.
GeForce NOW also utilizes an NVIDIA feature called NVIDIA Highlights. This will automatically save exciting in-game moments. Once saved, you can choose to share these highlight videos across various social channels.
Such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and more. Founders also get six-hour long gameplay sessions before they need to log out and log back in to continue for a new session, and they get priority access.
Free tier members are limited to one-hour long gameplay sessions, and have standard access. Which means Founders will get to connect first if servers are full or reaching capacity.
What are the benefits?
The main benefits are clear and concise. You can play just about any of your PC games, just about anywhere you like, and just about on any device.
So there are some exceptions there. But those limitations are pretty minimal. Essentially you get the availability to play all of your already-owned games on your phone or PC. And if it's the phone you want to use so you can play the games on the go, you get a wide selection of devices to choose from.
Compared to Stadia which initially only supported Pixel phones (new phones are being added on February 20), you have options. So if you prefer to use a Samsung Galaxy Note 10, you can. And that's a wonderful consumer-friendly option.
Another benefit is that you can spend less on a PC. Maybe you want to play high-end games with tip-top graphics, but you can't afford a PC that is powerful enough to support this. Now that's not an issue.
Are there any downsides?
Yes. There are a few. GeForce NOW isn't perfect. Just like Stadia isn't perfect. Just like Stadia though, the tech works and the service works. Especially under optimal conditions.
As for the downsides, GeForce NOW is limited on some games. While it has a vast array of available options, it still misses out on games from some publishers. Namely Activision Blizzard. Prior to the launch the games were officially available through the service.
After the launch however, Activision Blizzard requested that the games be pulled. This means no more Overwatch, World of Warcraft, Heroes of the Storm, Call of Duty, or other games from either company on GeForce NOW.
Another downside is the play session limits. With the Founders tier you are limited to six hours. If you reach that point then you will need to log out. Then log back in, and start a brand new play session. This may not affect some people, especially if you don't usually play for longer than six hours at a time.
Some people do though. The bigger downside is with the free tier. Free tier members only get one-hour long play sessions, and this might feel a lot more constricting. It'll basically make it a lot more challenging to play any sort of MMO or ongoing game.
If it's a multiplayer game that has longer content, such as raids that can take at least a couple of hours to finish and require a group of players, using the free tier isn't exactly convenient as you'd have to stop every hour and log out.
You'd also have to hope that you got back in immediately so that your group isn't waiting on you. Case in point, if you're planning using GeForce NOW with an MMO or MMO-like game, pay up for the Founders tier.
Is NVIDIA GeForce NOW right for you?
It's certainly right for someone. For a lot of people really. But, it won't be right for everyone.
If you're asking yourself this question, then there are a few things you want to consider. Are you ok with the limitations, like the one-hour and six-hour play sessions? Are you ok with the lack of games from Activision Blizzard?
Do you mind not having iOS support? If you're not ok with these things, then GeForce NOW may not be for you. Something similar to GeForce NOW that would allow access to games like Overwatch and WoW and support iOS would be Shadow.
Though your monthly fee is quite a bit higher. So you'd need to consider that too. You gain a few things but you also pay more. With GeForce NOW you have a really low monthly cost to keep up with.
For that, you'll get access to just about any game you may have ever purchased or will purchase on PC. Thinking ahead, the service will end up allowing you to play newer games that have yet to release too.
If you have an Android device, then GeForce NOW may be the right choice for you as it supports a huge variety of Android devices.
I wouldn't necessarily recommend this if you don't have a 5GHz router and don't have a strong internet connection. Notice I didn't say fast, because your internet speeds can be really good but the connection strength could still be weak.
Which would more than likely cause issues with any cloud gaming experience. All of these factors are worth mulling over. In the end though, GeForce NOW is a great gaming option if you have strong, fast internet with the proper router and an extra $5 to spare every month.