by Jim Lynch

Nvidia’s GeForce Now: A solution for Mac gamers?

Jan 09, 2017
Cloud Computing Consumer Electronics MacOS

Nvidia's GeForce Now streaming service is coming to the Mac. Mac gamers will be able to play games with high-end Nvidia graphics cards via the cloud.

Macs have never been regarded as good gaming computers. Yes, it’s sad but true that the Mac has always been regarded as an also-ran compared to Windows computers. And part of the problem has been that Apple has not kept pace with Windows PCs when it comes to the power of graphics cards.

Nvidia’s GeForce Now streaming service has the potential to change that and let Macs run any game at the highest screen resolutions available by utilizing high-end Nvidia graphics cards via the cloud. Imagine running the latest and greatest games (that are usually available for Windows PCs only) right on your Mac!

Ben School reports on GeForce Now for 9to5Mac:

GeForce Now connects users to individual GeForce GTX-powered virtual PCs which allow them to install games from popular services such as Steam, Origin, GOG, Uplay, and more. This also enables Mac users to access any game even if a Mac version is not yet available.

In Nvidia’s CES booth, we were able to test out GeForce Now on two devices, an iMac and a Macbook Air both not of the current generation (the exact model and specs were not disclosed). On the iMac, Nvidia had Witcher 3 running over an ethernet connection. The highly-detailed game played without a single issue during our brief testing.

More impressive, though, is the performance of GeForce Now on the Macbook Air. The older, less powerful machine had Rise of the Tomb Raider loaded up, and the game played without a single hiccup despite being on the highest settings. Needless to say, it was pretty impressive.

Pricing for GeForce Now is based on the hardware used and the amount of time spent gaming. For example, $25 will buy 10 hours of gameplay on a GTX 1080-powered machine, or 20 hours on a GTX 1060-powered machine. New users will also get 4 hours of 1080 or 8 hours of 1060 playtime. GeForce Now will be available both on Macs and on PCs starting in March with early access sign-ups available here.

More at 9to5Mac

You can sign up to get free early access to GeForce Now on the Mac.

Here are a couple of videos that will give you a taste of what GeForce Now has to offer Mac gamers:

Pricing could be the Achilles Heel of GeForce Now

I really, really like the idea of GeForce Now. As a guy who likes to game on his Mac, it’s definitely a service I’m interesting in using. Unfortunately, the pricing isn’t very realistic for gamers who play a lot.

For example, I play World of Warcraft on my 5K iMac. I play each day and I can only imagine how much it would cost me at the end of the month if I had to pay $25 for 10 hours of gameplay on a GTX 1080. I could blow through that 10 hours in 2 or 3 days, depending on what I’m doing in the game.

What Nvidia really needs to offer is a flat rate subscription price that would make subscribing a no-brainer. I’m not sure what the exact pricing should be but I’d certainly consider paying $30 or maybe even $40 per month for unlimited access to a GeForce 1080X virtual gaming PC.

But the hourly rate really puts a crimp in my desire to use GeForce Now. I suppose that it could work for folks that wanted to play a game here or there for a limited amount of time. But for games like World of Warcraft where people play for hours and hours and the game never really ends, the cost could be prohibitive.

Hopefully Nvidia will eventually offer some sort of subscription service that is priced at a reasonable rate. If it does then I think Mac gamers would leap at the chance to become subscribers of GeForce Now.

What people are saying about Nvidia’s GeForce Now service

I’m not the only one concerned about the price of GeForce Now. The topic came up in a recent discussion thread for an article on Ars Technica, and the folks there weren’t shy about sharing opinions about the cost of Nvidia’s service:

Salamanderjuice: “Wait, you still have to own the game and pay $25 for 20 hours? That’s kinda crap. I was thinking it was more like PS Now. What’s the point? If I already own the game I should have a system that already runs it. Maybe not 1060 level but with less latency. Probably better to just save that money for new hardware instead. ”

Shmerl: “Why would Nvidia pay for your games? They provide a cloud service for installing and playing games through it, but they don’t own games themselves. So it makes sense that you pay for the game, and pay to Nvidia for the service. I suppose they intend it for those who don’t want to invest into stronger hardware, but at the same time want to play some games which work well in such remote scenarios. Though $25 for 20 hours sounds too high for such a thing.”

DStaal: “I actually can see this, personally. $1.25 an hour is a bit expensive yet, but it’s still cheaper than a new computer for the occasional Windows game I want to play on my Mac, that various virtualization solutions won’t solve cheaper yet.

Unless the price drops quite a bit I can’t see playing games on it regularly, but for the occasional title that needs top-of-the-line hardware for the gamer who isn’t invested enough into gaming to make keeping a computer fully upgraded worth the money, it’s probably a good deal.”

Rabbit0809: “Well, I think it’s pretty neat too. My hope is that this catches on and things get cheaper.

Imagine what this could turn into – everyone could use cloud compute. You could subscribe and not need to upgrade hardware very often. And power consumption’s concentrated at the server farm. I look forward to the day I can call on more compute power as and when I need it for day-to-day stuff.

And latency – they could move server farms close to where their users are concentrated and twist ISP’s arms into laying down fiber. That’s a management problem, not a technical one.”

Rex86: “They should also reduce the pricing by a factor of ten before the service becomes economically feasible for users. I have 200 hours just on Stellaris, on Nvidia Now that would have cost me 250 dollars already. With that amount of money I can buy myself a new graphics card and play Stellaris whenever I want.”

Psychophant: “As far as the cost argument goes, consider how much it would cost you to buy a top line videocard every year, and how many hours you game on it. A GTX1060 goes for about $250 so if you gamed for 200 hours you could have bought your own. Some people only buy a couple high-spec games a year and play them for less than that, so I could see the appeal. The 1080 pricepoint seems more appealing, although the latency issue has a larger effect on the FPS games that this would really benefit.”

Bri2000: “…it depends how fast fibre gets rolled out and if they can make the pricing a little more reasonable ($2.50/hour for a 1080 seems excessive) but I can certainly see a future where it makes more sense to rent high gaming performance as you need it rather than incur capital expenditure on something that isn’t used 90% of the time and obsolete in 18 months.

I know PC gamers have a visceral dislike of anything that smacks of thin clients but it’s pretty cool to be able to play state of the art games in bed on an ultrabook.”

Killerhurtalot: “$1.25 is cheap when you consider internet cafés will charge you $5-10+ per hour for the games on machines with those specs easily.”

Fuzzyfuzzyfungus: “I’m not sure that the pricing is all that greedy on Nvidia’s part(it’s more expensive than something like an on-demand Amazon t2.xlarge(which is a VM, 4 virtualized CPU cores, 16 gigs of RAM, all storage and traffic into/out of the cloud extra) which goes for 23 cents per hour); but unlike the AWS instance, bandwidth and (one hopes) enough storage to not be a problem are included, there’s a GTX 1060 in there(presumably limiting how much virtualization and multiple-users-per-server they can manage); and it has to be close enough to the customer that latency doesn’t eat them alive; plus demand for gaming is likely to be highly irregular over the course of a day, all of which adds cost.

That said, even if Nvidia isn’t gouging at all, and is wringing every last penny out of this and passing the savings on to you; so what?”

Crito: “The program actually makes sense to me – perhaps it’s because I’m grey-ing rather than greybeard.

It’s utility is a function of utilization, much like cars. If you drive a vehicle once every few weeks, it makes a lot less sense to buy a car than if you use one every day.

If I get the chance to play games once a month, and perhaps for an eight hour bender, that puts me at 96 hours a year. Round to 100 for nice even math, and that’s $125. Assuming I need to upgrade every two years or so, and this is equivalent to playing on a ~$1000 PC, I’m saving $250-$750 (excluding energy costs, and the lower end assuming the PC is still worth $500 after two years, latter assuming it’s scrap).

Pegging the deprecated hardware at a generous $400 and excluding other costs, your break-even point is somewhere around 240 hours a year… which seems low to my childhood self, but unfathomable now.

There’s a real value proposition here to several types of gamers (e.g. those with time constraints, or perhaps just a partner/parent who balks at dropping $1K on a device that in all likelihood will reduce time invested in the relationship afterward). I can hear the marketers now: “Parents – want to moderate your kid’s gaming time, or use it as an easily-enforceable stick/carrot? Don’t buy them an uber PC, rent ours instead!” ”

More at Ars Technica

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