A few months back when NVidia took the wraps off of GeForce NOW and offered it to the public, I signed up immediately. I’ve had the Shield TV for a long time and have always been impressed by the streaming game quality available through the Android TV app. As a matter of fact, that service is the only way I’ve ever really played PUBG. Sure, we play PUBG Mobile almost every day, but the console/PC version is a whole different beast and the only bits of real game play I have experienced with it are because of GeForce NOW.
So, not surprisingly, I was very eager to try out GeForce NOW on my Chromebook the minute it left the closed beta and became an open service for anyone to use. As you can see from our trials in the past, that dream was swiftly squashed by two things: the absence of the app in the Play Store for Chromebooks and the crummy performance once I did find and install it. To NVidia’s credit, they did say Chromebook support was coming (via the web-based player, but we’ve not yet seen that materialize) so I give them a bit of a pass for hiding the app in the Play Store for Chromebooks up to this point.
Once I did find the app and get it installed on my Chromebook, I was again deflated by the terrible performance. The app would run fine for the first couple minutes and then simply freeze up completely. I tried it on multiple Chromebooks and have been installing the app with every single update in hopes that it will finally work at some point, but my trials have all failed. Same issues, same freezing screen, same letdown. More troubling was the fact that GeForce NOW ran great on even the most basic Android hardware. We tested a cheap Samsung tablet and the streaming experience was fantastic as you can see below.
For some inexplicable reason, I had a thought last night that I hadn’t checked on GeForce NOW in a while and, after finding no news whatsoever on the web player front, I figured I’d give the app another go. A new version just dropped on April 15th, so it was worth a try, right? I went through the process of moving to the Developer Mode (still a necessity to side load Android applications), downloading the APK and getting it installed and ready. This is the part where I tell you to only do this if you are aware of the risks involved and understand that you could lose data and personal info if you try doing anything in Developer Mode yourself.
As soon as things were up and running, I launched into Fortnite, fully expecting to get into the lobby, launch a match, and see a frozen image on my screen. This was around midnight, so I can promise you my expectation was failure and a swift trip to bed. To my surprise, however, my game just kept going. And going. And going. I finished in 6th for the solo match I was in if you must know, and then I left the game. Still no crashes, no freezes, and no real degradation in game play. I then launched CS:GO, got pummeled (not my game of choice), and then jumped into the shooting range in Apex Legends. Again, no issues and the game play was smooth just like I’ve experienced on my phone or Surface Go or that Samsung Android tablet from the video above. Then, this morning I played a couple more matches of Fortnite and the same experience was there again, and, honestly…I love it!
Why This Matters
Let me be clear: I’m not saying this solves GeForce NOW on Chromebooks for general users. I think most of you reading this should just wait it out a bit longer if you want GeForce NOW on your Chromebook. The web player is coming (we think) and will be the easiest, simplest way to enjoy the service on a Chromebook. However, with this latest version of the app, it seems NVidia may be changing its tune in regard to the Android app on Chrome OS. Where their early attitude towards Chrome OS was to push users to the not-yet-launched web player, there’s definitely been work done to the Android app that makes it work smoothly on Chrome OS.
Could this mean NVidia is ready to simply open up the app in the Play Store to Chromebook users as well? Perhaps that is the case, but we don’t have any official word at this point. With the success I’m now having with the app, though, I could definitely see this being a strategy for them. With no news still on any progress of the web player, there’s a real chance that NVidia is struggling with getting things to run well in a browser. By including Chromebooks in the Android app and allowing potential new users to simply snag the app in the Play Store, they could hit a large, additional subset of users that would be very interested in a way to play some of their favorite games on their Chromebook. We’ll keep an eye out for this to legitimately show up in the Play Store, but if you’ve been chomping at the bit to get NVidia GeForce NOW running on a Chromebook, you technically can now.