The King of Quality is GeForce Now - Searching For Stadia

The only cloud gaming service that presently matches Google Stadia's level of streaming quality and minimal latency, and in some cases even outperforms it, is Nvidia GeForce Now.

The only cloud gaming service that presently matches Google Stadia's level of streaming quality and minimal latency, and in some cases even outperforms it, is Nvidia GeForce Now.

In light of Google Stadia's impending shutdown, Searching for Stadia is a brief series that will highlight its unique qualities and contrast them with the rapidly expanding market for cloud gaming subscriptions.

Superior Latency, and Quality

It's crucial to note up front just what Nvidia has done right with GeForce Now, in my opinion. GeForce Now has the highest visual quality of any cloud gaming platform available today with a "RTX 3080" tier subscription (given to us by Nvidia for review purposes).

The top tier of GeForce Now is powered by the top-tier RTX 3080 graphics card, which comes with full capability for ray tracing visuals, as the name implies. I've spent a lot of my time using the service playing Cyberpunk 2077, and the Stadia version's graphics quality sometimes feels like a night and day difference from the original.

The complete range of graphics changes are available because you're playing the full-fat PC versions of these games, but Nvidia often comes pre-configured with a recommended quality setting for the subscription tier you're on. Cyberpunk 2077 may be played at 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second (fps) with virtually the highest settings on the RTX 3080 tier.

You may turn things up even further depending on the device you're using. The top GeForce Now tier on Mac or PC can match Stadia's 4K streaming while also providing 120 frames per second streaming on Mac, PC, ChromeOS, and Android. Even if there are a few systems where HDR is accessible, there aren't many games that use it.

In terms of audio, GeForce Now matches Stadia Pro's 5.1 surround sound and even delivers full 7.1 surround on the RTX 3080 tier (currently only available on PC, Mac, and Android TV).

More significantly, Nvidia's RTX 3080 tier subscription has allowed it to further reduce input latency. Giving or taking any network issues in my home, playing Cyberpunk 2077 on the top tier feels fairly close to a native experience. I had previously played through Control via the free and Priority tiers of GeForce Now.

GeForce Now on the RTX 3080 tier is the only cloud gaming service I've encountered that feels as consistently fluid to play as Stadia. Outside of competitive gaming settings when every millisecond counts, the latency is low enough to be hardly noticed, and the graphic improvements of a top-tier Nvidia GPU cannot be overstated.

Quality has its Price

Generally speaking, if the aspects of Stadia that you liked the best were the stream's quality, low input latency, and the added capabilities of Stadia Pro (such as 4K, HDR, and surround sound), you will probably find that GeForce Now is a great new option for cloud gaming.

However, the required RTX 3080 tier for that superior quality is extremely pricey, costing $19.99 per month. The fee of any games you might want to play is in addition to this. In contrast, Stadia Pro offers quality enhancements like 4K for half the price, along with access to free games without actually enhancing the underlying hardware.

The $10 "Priority" tier delivers up to RTX 2080 level quality, but without the higher resolutions, frame rates, and a lower playtime cap. If you're ready to sacrifice quality, you can utilize this tier (six hours versus eight).

However, if you're ready to put up with a few limitations, GeForce Now also offers a completely free version that you can utilize. You get complete access to the same game catalog in the free tier, but the games are of poorer quality, and there is a one-hour gameplay restriction. You'll need to wait in line once more at the conclusion of the hour, which may take a few seconds or several minutes depending on how busy things are.

GeForce Now is one of the few services that can provide you with the same level of access to your purchased games without charging a membership price as Stadia. However, the hassle of having to restart your game every hour makes a premium subscription appear very alluring.

Play Anywhere with a Click

As previously indicated, GeForce Now is accessible on a wide range of operating systems and hardware, including ChromeOS, PC, Mac, Android, iOS (through web app), Android TV (with specific features on Nvidia Shield), smart TVs from Samsung and LG, and practically anything with a Chrome web browser.

You can access Stadia from all of the same locations where you can play GeForce Now, with the lone exception of the Chromecast Ultra. One of the main advantages of cloud gaming is the flexibility to play from any location, and GeForce Now excels at it.

In a similar vein, switching devices won't prevent you from continuing where you left off in your game. I can very easily start a session on my computer and switch to my phone later. Your most recent games are listed at the top of the app, making it simple to tap one and start playing again.

Some games, such as Cyberpunk 2077, require you to interact with the launcher first before you can enter the game. This is not a significant deal if you're using a mouse and keyboard, but it might be challenging when using a gamepad because you have to move the pointer with a thumbstick and "click" with buttons.

More than that, though, GeForce Now's version of cloud gaming still exhibits some of the flaws of playing games on Windows due to the sporadic requirement to utilize (or imitate) a mouse and keyboard.

In contrast, Google Stadia placed a lot of attention on ensuring that it didn't matter if you played with a touchscreen, controller, or mouse and keyboard wherever it was possible. Additionally, switching between control schemes at a moment's notice was fluid and simple. Beyond that, playing a Stadia game always started you playing it right away, never giving you the impression that you were using a "cloud PC."

Although Nvidia has made considerable progress in this area, more needs to be done to meet Stadia's level of simplicity.

Ownership and Game Library

GeForce Now is entirely dependent on the libraries you've amassed in previous platforms, unlike Google Stadia, which required all gamers to start their game libraries from scratch. You must own the game on Steam, the Epic Games Store, or another supported platform in order to play it in GeForce Now.

However, just because you bought a certain game from one of those retailers doesn't imply you can really utilize GeForce Now to play it. A few years ago, Nvidia made changes to the way its service operated by mandating that publishers and game developers approve their works before they could be added to the GeForce Now collection.

Despite this, GeForce Now does contain a very large selection of games, both paid and free. The fact that Activision and Sony have chosen not to make their games available on Nvidia's cloud means that popular series like Overwatch, Call of Duty, and Spider-Man are not available on the platform.

In contrast to Stadia's 304 games, the catalog is larger overall with over 1400 titles, and it's simple to check in advance whether a game is compatible before buying it. Even better, Nvidia frequently collaborates with publishers to guarantee that some of the greatest titles are accessible on GeForce Now on the day of release.

The only inconvenience is having to exit the GeForce Now application, launch Steam or the Epic Games Store in a web browser to make a purchase, resync your accounts to view the new purchase, and then start the game. The plus side is that those sites frequently offer fantastic discounts on both new and vintage games.

GeForce Now is also one of the safer options for cloud players in terms of truly "owning" your games. You would still have access to every single one of those titles on Steam in the event that Nvidia chose to discontinue their cloud streaming service. You may then switch to another cloud platform, such as Shadow, or get your own gaming PC.

No Cloud-First Features

Nvidia's position on cloud gaming in a larger sense is one thing I think is important to note. Undoubtedly, Nvidia is pushing the limits of what game streaming is capable of, but it appears that it is doing so to highlight the power of Nvidia GeForce graphics cards. As an illustration, the highest GeForce Now subscription tier at the moment is termed "RTX 3080," after the company's 2020 graphics card.

In my perspective, Nvidia wants to continue selling graphics cards, and GeForce Now is a subtly disguised way of doing so. It's difficult to resist wanting a gaming machine of your own once you have a taste for PC gaming, even if it's being streamed.

I can't criticize Nvidia for this because it's perfect. However, we won't see the kinds of cloud-first or cloud-exclusive experiences that Stadia originally championed as long as GeForce Now continues to concentrate just on streaming conventional PC games.

Communities That Borrow

GeForce Now is in an intriguing position when it comes to community building, a task at which Google Stadia was successful. You can access your whole friends list from each as each game you play through the service is launched through an established platform like Steam, Epic, or Ubisoft.

Making "GeForce Now friends" is not necessary, unlike making Stadia friends. Despite this, Nvidia has continued to work on fostering a sense of community within GeForce Now or at the very least developing a relationship with its users. Weekly "GFN Thursday" blog posts provide a catch-up on the most recent releases as well as a preview of upcoming events.

GeForce Now provides the best of both worlds in certain respects. You'll never have a problem finding someone to play games with, and if you want, you may connect with a young online gaming community.

Can Stadia be replaced by GeForce Now?

Gaming is now available on practically any screen thanks to Nvidia GeForce Now, which is based on at least some of the same fundamental principles as Google Stadia. While keeping things largely user-friendly for those without prior PC gaming knowledge, the service also manages to meet and even surpass Stadia's level of quality and latency.

Now that Stadia is being discontinued, I can easily see myself switching to GeForce Now as my favorite gaming platform. My only desire is that GeForce Now would work toward some of Stadia's earlier, more ambitious goals for cloud gaming. You can get a six-month subscription to GeForce Now Priority for just $29.99 between now and November 20 thanks to a special deal from Nvidia. Additionally, the business is giving both physical and digital gift cards in time for the holidays, which should make great stocking stuffers for the gamers in your life.

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