On the surface, the new GFE features appear as if they’re not all that different from what existing services offer: Gameplay video streaming has been done (and done well) by Twitch and YouTube; sharing access to games has been done through Steam’s Family Sharing; co-op game streaming seems pointless in the face of just using multiplayer. Looking further into the solutions, though, reveals a few unique use cases not covered by existing options.
NVidia uses ShadowPlay and the on-die encoder to process video streaming efficiently, something we’ve objectively analyzed against competing video capture/stream solutions. For gamers who might want to only share their feed with a single friend (or group of friends), rather than globally broadcast, the new Stream function will allow for high bit-rate private streaming. This is accessed through an in-game overlay that feeds to GFE and is output through a private link. For those interested in integrating with Twitch, the overlay allows up to 720p60 global streaming using the same ShadowPlay tech and on-die encoder. Users who prefer to just upload footage rather than live-stream it can still use ShadowPlay to do so, but may now upload straight to YouTube through the platform, rather than exiting the game and doing so separately.
Game sharing is sort of an interesting feature. In the event the game is (1) not a Steam game, (2) not shareable through Family Sharing, or (3) the user doesn’t want to provide full library access to another user, the GFE Share feature could potentially be used as an alternative. “Stream” allows other players to take direct control of the host PC’s input, feeding their own (relatively) low-latency keyboard/mouse input over WAN to the host rig. You wouldn’t want to play a competitive game this way, but it works for titles that don’t care about extremely low latencies. The idea here is that players can leverage friends’ libraries to try a game before purchase and without using Steam Family Sharing, if that’s not an option. All the rendering and processing is performed on the host platform, encoded on the GPU, and shipped as video output to the connected player, who accesses the video via Chrome. The player then responds to this output using traditional input means.
One thing that nVidia talked about previously is co-op game streaming, something I’d originally struggled to find a reason to use. The idea is that, as posed by nVidia, “GameStream Co-op lets gamers stream their game over the internet to a friend and play together cooperatively — just as if you were sitting next to each other.” Admittedly, I do remember scoffing at the idea when I first heard it via conference call – “so… multiplayer?” It’s a bit different than that, though. Connected players don’t need to own the title or a gaming system (or nVidia hardware) and can join local co-op games (Trine, for instance) via the sharing service. This is achieved through the same means described above.
We’ll look at the new GeForce Experience features more closely in the near future to determine how useful they are, but in the meantime, the toolset is available for beta download via nVidia’s GeForce Experience platform.
- Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke.