With no cloud gaming service in sight just a year ago, in 2021 Australia suddenly got one worth talking about when Nvidia’s GeForce Now launched its beta trial back in September, and then soon thereafter became available to all Australians.
While it’s hard to judge its popularity since then, it’s not hard to overlook how it might appeal to Aussie gamers.
GeForce Now can prevent you from having to upgrade your gaming hardware, which in a pandemic world where the best gear is in short supply, is a big plus. It also allows you to play AAA games for a comparatively lower price than buying a new rig. Considering this, the question begs: will we soon see competitor services in Australia? And if so, which ones?
If we were to hypothetically select one that could show up in the next 12 months, we’d have to guess Google Stadia. This service has garnered a particularly large following overseas, and since its launch, it has somewhat matured, ironing out a few of the wrinkles that turned early subscribers off. It’s available in 22 countries. Google hasn’t hinted that we will indeed get it, but if it were to come Downunder, would it be something we would even want? And, how would it compare to GeForce Now?
Comparing Australia’s GeForce Now with Google Stadia’s overseas offerings shows them to be very similar, but how they stream games is entirely different.
Google Stadia uses Linux-based technology to stream games to your laptop, desktop, compatible phone or tablet, while GeForce Now connects your device with more powerful computers located in the cloud. Both services require similar connections to run. GeForce’s provider Pentanet recommends a minimum connection of 25/Mbps, whereas Stadia requires a network speed of around 35/Mbps or greater.
Both services have free and paid for subscription options. Stadia’s free tier is slightly more generous, since it doesn’t set a time limit on a single play session like GeForce Now does – GeForce Now’s limit is currently 1 hour. Stadia’s free option also provides some free-to-play games, and it boasts little or no queuing.
GeForce Now’s free tier may have time-limited play sessions, and queues, but its premium subscription remedies this by offering gamers up to 6 hours in one session, and priority queue access, thereby cutting down wait times.
One big difference between the two services is how they source games. Google Stadia’s games library is relatively limited, with approximately 300 games currently available. This is being expanded each month, but it’s still a tiny fraction of the thousands of games GeForce Now’s users can access through their Steam or other game libraries.
If you have a large Steam library, the GeForce Now option seems like an obvious choice, but there are a few downsides to accessing your games this way.
Any games that can be played via Steam or another marketplace have to be officially approved by the developers, and you may find some that haven’t been given the green light, or were, but have been subsequently removed. This has already happened and can happen again at any time, so you could see some of your favourite games disappear from the service – something that’s unlikely to happen in Google Stadia.
In regards to the streaming quality, Google Stadia enables players subscribed to its premium subscription to stream in 4K and at 60fps. GeForce now on the other hand, is limited to 1080p at 60fps in its premium subscription tier. Both cost the same US$9.99 per month in the US.
This may seem like Stadia has the quality advantage, but there aren’t a large number of games that support true 4K, and those that do, would be lucky if they streamed anywhere near the promised 60fps. Non 4K games are also up scaled to 4K too, but the quality of their graphics can prove to be just average after the conversion.
Alternatively, GeForce Now allows gamers to play games at their highest graphical settings, and in its premium subscription, streams RTX supported titles in the latest RTX graphics with ray tracing.
If you’re thinking GeForce Now is sounding like the better option now, it’s still not that straightforward. There are a number of other factors to be considered, none less than what's actually going to work for your hardware setup and personal preferences. For instance, how you might choose between the two could come down to what games you like and which service supports those particular games, or whether you want to play on your TV or computer.
Will you be playing on a large screen 4K TV? Then, you’ll probably love the look of the graphics from a Stadia stream. Planning to play on your ageing PC? Then, GeForce Now could bring to life a ray tracing graphics experience you never thought possible.
Admittedly, it’s all just hypothetical now, but we’d be surprised if someone didn’t take up the competitor mantle soon. Whether or not that’s Google Stadia we’ll have to wait and see. But for now, there’s a lot to like about GeForce Now.