January 8, 2018 // 11:09 a.m.
Nvidia's GeForce Now cloud gaming platform, originally developed for the company's Android-powered Shield tablet and microconsole family, has launched its second beta programme for Windows and macOS users.
Based on the concept of cloud gaming - where the heavy computational work of running the game engine and rendering the graphics are carried out on high-powered servers in remote data centres and the resulting video, treated with various clever latency-reducing tricks, streamed to a lightweight client package which displays it to the user and records inputs to be sent back to the remote server - GeForce Now was originally leaked back in December 2016 as 'GeForce PC in the cloud'. Its initial launch, however, concentrated on adding triple-A PC games to its Shield family of Android devices, giving them the ability to run games that even Nvidia's impressive X1 Arm system-on-chip (SoC) would otherwise find a challenge.
The technology, though, has wider appeal: The macOS beta launched late last year, bringing previously Windows-exclusive titles to the platform for the first time. Now, the company is offering the same to Windows users as a means of allowing those with weaker systems - such as low-cost desktops with integrated graphics or ultraportable laptops - to run high-end games.
According to Nvidia, the updated service builds on a smaller beta test run last summer with improved performance: 1080p video streams at up to 120 frames per second (FPS). Unlike some cloud gaming services which require the user to buy or rent titles from an internal catalogue, GeForce Now connects to users' existing games libraries on Valve's Steam, and Ubisoft's uPlay platforms, while free-to-play titles can be installed directly.
The new beta, which builds on the company's earlier GeForce Grid platform, is available for free on Windows and macOS now for users in North America and Europe, Nvidia has confirmed, though when the service launches fully it will likely attract the same £7.49 a month charge as its Shield equivalent. Demand, though, has led to a waitlist for which interested parties can register through the official website.