Sure, it’s been a heavy dose of game streaming news today, but NVIDIA’s announcement yesterday was quite significant and important for cloud-based game streaming. While not a perfect solution or perfect execution, GeForce NOW offers some unique advantages over Google’s Stadia and possibly over other upcoming services as well with its ability to allow players to leverage games they already own through services like Steam, the Epic Games Store, Battle.net, and Uplay. Though a bit rough around the edges, NVIDIA certainly made a splash yesterday with its arrival.
One of the primary ways that Stadia sets itself apart right now is the ability to use it with just a browser instance. No downloads, no installs, no hassles. You simply go to stadia.google.com, log in, and click play. I wrote about this earlier this week and what I said still stands: Stadia is unmatched in this ability from a simplicity and ease-of-use perspective. On the mobile front, Stadia also looks to be usable on both Android and iOS/iPadOS in the future, whereas GeForce NOW is limited to just Android for now with no plans on an iOS release.
When NVIDIA does get around to launching its web player later in the year, it will introduce Chromebook users to GeForce Now in a proper fashion and give millions of potential players access to the massive library of games the service comes with. That bulging library is the strongest single selling point of GeForce NOW and when you add in a web portal, Stadia could potentially run into a situation where their lack of games really become a detriment.
Perhaps by the time NVIDIA gets their web version out, Stadia’s promised 120 games for 2020 will be much further along. Perhaps GeForce Now will be laggy or buggy via the web. We just don’t know what the landscape will look like once we can properly play GeForce NOW on a Chromebook. What I do know is if Stadia doesn’t get aggressive with game rollouts before that time, it will have a real problem on its hands.
Sure, gaming on Stadia is a clean, simple process on the web and the experience is extremely smooth. But the game selection is weak, the player base is small, and even if I already own a game, I’d have to re-purchase it to play on Stadia. Contrast this with GeForce NOW – assuming their web player is any good when it debuts – and you quickly see that Stadia’s lack of games and players is problematic. GeForce NOW will never have quite as slick of an interface as Stadia has due to the fact that they are allowing users to play games from multiple sources, but if they get it cleaned up enough and deliver an accessible web player, I can’t see a reason I would choose to leverage Stadia over it. It is going to be a very interesting 6-9 months, for sure.