Apple is still steadfastly refusing to allow any of the new crop of streaming game platforms into its walled garden…so they’re coming in the back way. Today NVIDIA announced that its GeForce NOW service, which streams PC games users’ already own on Steam and other stores, on iOS. The service uses an iPhone or iPad browser to display the streams.
Users can access their GeForce NOW library on iOS by pointing a browser window to play.geforcenow.com. NVIDIA is quick to note that iOS access is in beta: At the moment, there’s no touch interface, and it requires a Bluetooth or Lightning gamepad. That means games that require a mouse and keyboard (like strategy or MOBA titles) basically can’t be played on iOS.
Aside from the control limitations, GeForce NOW on Safari should be more or less the same as it is on Windows, Android, and Chrome OS. Anyone can play up to an hour at a time for free, with unlimited reconnections. Those who spring for “Founders” memberships can play for four hours, with extra graphical goodies provided by NVIDIA’s RTX graphics card tech. And some games include support for 4:3 aspect ratios so that they’ll play in fullscreen on iPads.
A la Game Pass, GeForce NOW doesn’t come with its own game access, but hundreds of titles on the Steam, Epic, and uPlay PC game stores are available in case you already own them. Dozens of free-to-play games are available, too.
A Footnote on Fortnite
One of the most interesting aspects of bringing GeForce NOW to iOS is that, technically, it’s the return of Fortnite. Previously the world’s most-played mobile game, Fortnite hasn’t graced the Play Store since Epic publicly scorned Apple’s App Store rules on in-app purchases back in August.
But there’s a pretty big handicap here: Since GeForce NOW uses the Windows versions of its games streamed from NVIDIA data centers, mobile players will at best be playing with controllers against PC players on mouse and keyboard. To say that they’ll probably get slaughtered is hardly an understatement.
However, the good news is that NVIDIA’s looking into this. According to its initial press information, NVIDIA is working directly with Epic to create a touch interface for Fortnite when it runs on GeForce NOW. While it’s not ready at launch, presumably this touch-enabled, cloud-powered version of Fortnite would closely resemble the iOS version that hasn’t been available for months. Putting iOS players into their own servers—where they don’t have to play against others on PCs, with their lopsided control advantages—would be an obvious boon.
You Lookin’ at Me, Cyberpunk?
NVIDIA’s announcement includes some news about the future of the service beyond its iOS expansion. It expects to allow Chrome users on Macs, PCs, Linux, and Android devices to access GeForce NOW without a locally installed client sometime in early 2021. The service itself will also expand to Saudi Arabia in the coming weeks.
Perhaps most notably for PC gamers who already own a large collection: GeForce NOW will soon be able to access libraries on GOG.com (Good Old Games), too. NVIDIA specifically mentioned that the company expects Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher 3 to be the first games available via GOG—though they didn’t say whether the functionality will be ready by Cyberpunk’s December 10 launch date.