See the photo above? That’s not Nvidia — it’s Microsoft’s xCloud, streaming Halo to an Android phone from remote internet servers powered by AMD GPUs. Google will also be bringing its Stadia cloud gaming service to Google Pixel phones from AMD-powered servers, and you’ll be able to try both this fall.
That’s probably why AMD rival Nvidia isn’t sitting still. The graphics giant just announced it will “soon extend” its existing GeForce Now cloud gaming service to Android phones, including flagship devices from LG and Samsung.
Unfortunately, we don’t have details like “when exactly?” and “how much?” except that you won’t have to pay to try Nvidia’s service at first. Like the current GeForce Now for Mac, PC, and Nvidia’s Shield TV set-top box, it’ll be in beta when it starts out.
Like other mobile cloud gaming offerings, Nvidia says you’ll need a gamepad to take full advantage:
To take full advantage of the mobile experience, we’re recommending gaming with a Bluetooth gamepad, such as SHIELD controller, Razer Raiju Mobile, Steelseries Stratus Duo or Glap Gamepad (in Korea), as some games will be unplayable on an Android phone without a gamepad.
It’s not much of a stretch for Nvidia to bring the service to Android phones, by the way. In another life, Nvidia’s GeForce Grid first came to the Android-based Nvidia Shield portable gaming console, and it’s been running on the Nvidia Shield TV, which runs Android TV, for years. On Mac and PC, the invite-only beta of GeForce Now has proven to be pretty impressive at streaming games over the internet, at least if you’ve got an excellent Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection and live relatively near a server — I’ve been beating bosses in the downright masochistic Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice using GeForce Now, syncing progress to Steam as I go.
Whether it’ll work over LTE or 5G cellular connections is another question, though. And I’m curious how Nvidia might make the economics work if it tries to actually make money from the service and not just, you know, run betas forever.
Recently, Nvidia partnered with Softbank and LG’s U+ to bring GeForce Now to Japan and Korea — it was previously available in North America and Europe — and it’s been rolling out newer servers powered by its RTX graphics cards in California and Germany to add additional performance.