Nvidia’s much-anticipated GeForce Now cloud gaming service is finally (oh yeah !) arriving on its Shield Android TV set-top box which was launched earlier this year.
With this launch, Nvidia is probably hoping to better its prospects in the competition that is bound to take place between the newly released Apple TV and Nvidia’s Android TV alternative. The GeForce gaming service, which adds a hitherto unexplored dimension of streaming to TV gaming, is sure to spice things up as it promises to deliver high quality games to consumers without the need for a download.
Ali Kani, General Manager at Shield, Nvidia, in an interview with GamesBeat said,
Apple TV has come out, but if you are an Android user, Shield is the best device for you, We like Apple TV because it confirms our theory that the smart TV category is exciting.
The Gaming service was earlier expected to be served with the Shield Set-top box itself, however, the company prefered to polish it to perfection rather than go ahead with a hasty launch. The testing process, which took over nine months to conclude, saw almost 100,000 people test the GeForce Now service and involved about 600,000 hours of gameplay in 180 countries.
Whew! Talk about going to great lengths. However, when you compare it with the fact that Nvidia spent over 5 years developing the GeForce service, the intensive testing is pretty much justified.
So how does it work? Well, If you choose to sign up for the GeForce service — with three months on the house for Shield devices, followed by a subscription fee of $8 a month — you can take your pick from over 50 PC games including those from the Batman, Lego, Witcher, and Resident Evil series. The games are actually hosted on Nvidia’s internet-connected data centers and are never downloaded. Instead, the game imagery at any particular instant, is streamed live to the Shield box, which displays it on connected TVs.
The system, while certainly very new, has several advantages over conventional gaming consoles. Apart from the obvious fact that you would be saved the pain of downloading games that run into hundreds of GBs, Thanks to the fact that your TV is merely displaying images and not actually crunching the game itself, you don’t have to worry over much about its processing power. Also, 8 bucks a month for a whole bunch of ready to play games — and Nvidia is bound to add more before long — sounds pretty cool to me.
However, it goes without saying that a lot is going to depend upon your internet connection as well. Ideally, you should sit down to play with a speed of over or about 50 Mbps, which would allow you to enjoy uninterrupted gameplay at the resolution of 1080p with 60 frames per second speed. Those with slower modems can still enjoy the games albeit at lower resolutions and fps. For example, 25 megabits a second will allow gameplay at with only 30 frames per second, while 10 megabits per second will let you play at a reduced resolution of 720p.
However it doesnt really seem like internet speed is all that big an issue — as long as you have 10 Mbps+ — since the average speed during testing was somewhere near the vicinity of 15 Mbps, yet the system got an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars.
The hardware also manages to holds its own against the best of competition out there. Interestingly, Shield’s new Tegra X1 actually outclasses the ones used in the Apple Tv. Shield has also packed in a 256-core Nvidia graphics processing unit (GPU) and a 64-bit central processing unit (CPU), which according to claims by the company, add up to a processing power nearly thrice anything the Apple Tv is capable of. Well, those are certainly tall claims, and if true, are very likely to give Shield a pretty keen edge in the competition.
Phil Eisler, general manager of GeForce Now at Nvidia, seemed unruffled by the varying internet speeds around the world as he remarked,
The question is not if, but when cloud gaming will take off, I feel like we have the GPU requirements and the bandwidth to put cloud gaming onto an exponential growth curve.
Adding that as Nvidia get access to more and more cloud-gaming data center locations around the world, a rapid improvement in the average broadband speeds is being observed too.
While Shield can already be purchased in more than 1,000 stores across the US, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden will play host to its 16 GB and 500 GB Hard drive variants, starting the 1st of October.