This year, at CES 2018, Nvidia announced their pricing for [Geforce Now for PC and Mac] (https://www.nvidia.com/en-us/geforce/products/geforce-now/mac-pc/). For 25 USD, players would be able to rent a cloud machine for 20 hours of gaming. This price angered many in the gaming community, especially when compared to Geforce Now for Shield, which costs a fixed monthly price of 7.99 USD. However, when properly compared, does the pricing make sense?
What do you get?
The Geforce Now service provides you with a virtual machine equipped with either a Geforce GTX 1060 or a Geforce GTX 1080. For 25 USD, you get 2500 credits, providing you with 20 hours of gaming on the weaker GPU or 10 hours of gaming on the stronger GPU. You also get up to 1 TB of storage for games. Note that those credits do not give you access to the games themselves, you still need to buy those on the Steam or Ubisoft store.
Why would you need it?
The acquisition of a "reasonable" gaming PC will cost you at least a USD 1000, which a lot of money to start gaming, especially compared to consoles. In addition, if you like working with a Mac or Linux computer, your options are limited. Streaming from home is always an option, but it still requires the expensive PC mentionned above to power the experience.
If you are an occasional player, Geforce Now might make be a good option. That powerful gaming computer will only be relevant for 2 or 3 years. Assuming you game less than 20 hours a month, after 3 years, Geforce Now will only have cost you 900 USD as opposed to the 1000 USD payed up front for a gaming computer of proportional power.
Why would I avoid it?
There are two consideration that limits the usefulness of cloud gaming: pricing and lattency.
As previously mentioned, with a pricing of 25$ per 20 hours, the cost can quickly add up. If you play more than 20 hours a month, unless you need the extra mobility, Geforce Now does not make financial sense. A gamer that uses the system for an hour a day will pay at least 1400 USD for 3 years (1095 hours) of streaming.
In addition, as with all streaming system, lattency can be an issue on fast pace games. When testing on first-party shooters, any lattency spike would result in a massive amount of stutter, usually enough to get yourself eliminated. This means Geforce Now is not a viable solution for any type of competitive e-sport. Your ability to use Geforce Now will depend on your proximity to an Nvidia datacenter and the quality of your Internet connections. Luckily, Nvidia plans to have a trial period so you can determine if your connectivity is sufficient.
Who is this for?
I can see several groups that would benefit of a streaming platform like Geforce Now :
- People that only game a couple of hours per week
- People that want the play in different location
- People that can't afford the up-front cost of a gaming computer
The problem with group (2) is that your success with the sytem will depend on the Internet quality every place you want to play. As for group (3), Geforce Now might seem like an affordable solution, but the total cost will most likely end up much higher than purchasing the PC.
If funds are limited, you can always purchase a used desktop system and upgrade the videocard. And don't forget that the credits do now include the games you want to play, you actually still needs to guy those.
That leaves group (1) as the most likely clients for this system. I can actually see them enjoying this system, as long as their Internet connection is sufficient. That said, I do not think I will be subscribing once the Beta period ends. Although I love streaming my games over my home network, I'm just as happy to do it from my home computer.