Nvidia just announced that its cloud gaming service, GeForce Now, is coming to Safari on iOS platforms. GeForce Now is already on MacOS, PC, Shield TV, Android, and as of recently ChromeOS. iOS has been the holdout as Nvidia hasn’t been able to get GeForce Now onto the App Store. That’s likely because of Apple’s policies regarding streaming services. Apple insists all purchasing of products on streaming platforms can be down through iOS (which means Apple gets a 30% cut). However, Apple does not have the same policies regarding its Safari browser, which leaves the door wide open for developers to provide browser-based experiences and circumvent Apple’s 30% commission rate.
Fortnite is part of GeForce Now’s library of supported games, which means fans on iOS will be able to play again. Not only can anyone play Fortnite on an iPhone or iPad, but all in-game purchases go directly to Epic Games. It appears Nvidia won’t run into any issues with Apple by doing this, either. Apple has already said publicly that while cloud gaming isn’t currently compatible with its App Store policies, developers are free to go the route of the web. Microsoft is currently figuring out a way to bring its cloud streaming service, xCloud, to iOS without relying on the App Store, for instance.
Like ChromeOS, Nvidia is using a WebRTC implementation on Safari. You know how you can launch Zoom and other video conferencing clients through your browser and not use an app? Same concept here. It’s also how Google runs Stadia on its Chrome browser on PC, too. Previously Nvidia found a way to make the whole GeForce Now experience feel seamless on ChromeOS, and it sounds like that’s now the plan for iOS. Unfortunately, a beta wasn’t available ahead of the news so we’ll still have to try it out for ourselves and see how it compares to Stadia or Microsoft’s stand-alone apps on Android.
But the current iOS experience at least has me optimistic. iOS 14 lets you create shortcuts to Safari pages that effectively function as apps if the webpage is designed just right. The web browser is hidden on the pages launched via shortcut so you genuinely feel like you’re using an app and not a specific instance of a browser.
Users will need the latest version of iOS to run GeForce Now on Safari, but they won’t need to have the latest iPhone or iPad. Just iOS 14. Besides the website shortcut iOS 14 is also necessary because it has Bluetooth controller support (you’ll want to bring your own controller to the party for sure).
That’s not all that’s new with GeForce Now. Support for GOG’s game distribution platform will be added prior to the launch of Cyberpunk 2077 in December 2020. Nvidia also says its cloud gaming platform will be available on Chrome outside of ChromeOS sometime in the first quarter of 2021. Nvidia notes that while this will make using GeForce Now on Android outside of the stand-alone app technically possible, users will have the best experience using the GeForce app on Android. “There may be some limitations with Chrome on Android, mainly because of performance,” a GeForce spokesperson told Gizmodo. “Anything recent should be fine, but there may be some odd exceptions. As we get closer to releasing widely on Chrome, we’ll have more of those details.”
Universal Chrome and iOS 14 support will definitely put GeForce Now ahead of game streaming services like Stadia, Microsoft’s Game Pass Ultimate, and Amazon’s upcoming Luna. With so many options for how and where to play games on GeForce now, not to mention an extremely robust library of over 650 games, it’ll be interesting to see if this affects either of those companies’ plans to attract or retain users.