Nvidia commercially launched its cloud gaming service for its Shield TV, Shield Tablet and Shield Portable devices on September 30. The company has had the service in beta testing since 2013 under the Nvidia GRID Gaming banner. At launch the company changed the name to GeForce Now. The service will be free for users for the first three months and then the subscription price will be $7.99. Subscribers will have access to 50 games and a buy and play instantly option for new releases.
On October 1, Nvidia Shield TV hardware was launched in the UK, France, Germany, Norway, Finland and Sweden. According to the company it is already available in 1,000 stores in the US. Nvidia revealed that 100,000 customers in 180 countries accessed the service during the beta testing phase.
On September 15, EMTEC and Gamefly announced that Gamefly’s streaming rental service will be included on EMTEC’s GEM Box that will launch in North America in 2016. Gamefly will also be included when Swisscom launches its new set top box Swisscom TV 2.0 in 2016.
On the same day Shinra Technologies revealed that it had expanded its test of its streaming games service to Verizon FiOS subscribers in Texas. The streaming service has been open to those with access to Google Fiber in Kansas City since August 2015, and in a technical test with NTT East in Japan since February 2015. Customers in the Texas test will have access to Square Enix games Tomb Raider, Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Final Fantasy VII.
At the Tokyo Game Show Sony revealed that PlayStation Now was available on September 16 in Japan with a library of 150 titles available for a flat rental fee.
Nvidia’s announcement of a commercial launch for its service has been expected for some time. The $7.99 pricing in the US is likely an acceptable price point for potential customers. At £7.49 in the UK, however, the pricing may cause a bit of grumbling. Users there are savvy enough to know that comes to over $10.00 at current exchange rates and adding in VAT increases the price even more.
These types of device deployments and technology tests are critically important to the rollout of streaming games. However, once again, the glaring concern is the content. After over two years of work on the Shield devices and game services GeForce Now is launching with only 50 titles and many are still the same titles that we have seen in nearly every streaming games service that has launched in the last 3 – 5 years. Shinra is limited to Square Enix titles, and Gamefly is also sitting at the 40 – 50 titles it inherited through the acquisition of Playcast.
With the exception of PlayStation Now, nearly every streaming games service is still pitching the almost same small library to consumers with few additions and changes. At this point it is mattering less and less which demographic any given service is targeting. If a consumer is interested in gaming at all, it is likely they have been offered this library of titles in a streaming service at some point. Without major buy-in from publishers, Sony is likely to be the only service that will see real interest from a potentially mass audience. Given the fact that both Nvidia and Gamefly have well established and existing relationships with a large number of games developers and publishers through their other business endeavors and they still have not opened up access to large libraries it communicates that the content side of the games business is just not on board yet.