GEFORCE NOV IS PROBABLY AS GOOD AS MAC GAMING
Here’s something I didn’t think to say: I’ve been playing Blizzard’s Overvatch on macOS Catalina on a 13-inch MacBook Air since 2012. I have the graphics raised as much as possible and I’m still at 60 frames per second. Although I’m playing a relic from the time of the halki when you could find USB-A ports on your Mac, my team is winning – and I think it’s safe to say that it’s mostly because of me.
All this is not happening because Mac gaming suddenly went from “sucki” to “super” overnight, and certainly not because Blizzard finally released the Mac port of its popular team shooter. Instead, I’m playing with the new account release of Nvidia’s Founder GeForce Instant Game Streaming Service, which finally went public after a few years in beta.
With just a few reservations, I love it. You’ll never catch me saying it’s good enough to replace a gaming computer, but I’d say it’s about as close to what you can have on a Mac, especially on an old one like this. And I think it’s time to face the music: This is probably what the future of Mac games looks like. This is as good as it gets. (Our sister site, PCWorld, has an article on GeForce Nov you can also check out.)
UP IN THE CLOUD
Before I take too much of a break from myself, here’s an explainer. Nvidia GeForce is a new cloud streaming service like Google Stadia, but one that is infinitely user-friendly. (Unfortunately, Stadia didn’t deliver on its promise.) You don’t have to re-purchase some of the games you probably own on your PC, and it also works with a number of windows that you may already have accounts with, such as Steam, the Epic Games Store, and Blizzard’s Battle .net. You don’t even have to worry about your Mac being able to run these games, because Nvidia updates them itself and powers them all with its own celebrated graphics cards – which, as a reminder, haven’t been supported on Macs for years.
The only things you really need are an Nvidia account and an internet connection that can reach at least 15Mbps. Unfortunately, in the Appleverse, GeForce Nov is only available on a Mac. It may look perfect for iOS and Apple TV, but when I asked, an Nvidia representative said that the company had “nothing to announce”. It is not hard to believe that Apple itself could create problems in that regard, especially after the fiasco around Valve’s Steam Link application in 2018 and 2019.
You don’t even have to pay for GeForce New if you don’t want to, because the free version allows you to use the gaming service for up to an hour at a time, although you can go back to another session if you’re turned off. If you want to get up to six hours with “priority” access to Nvidia’s servers (as well as Nvidia’s RTKS ON Air Tracking Technology), you’ll only have to pay $ 4.99 per month for the Founder Edition account. It’s the same price as a subscription to an Apple Arcade, less than $ 10 Google Stadium per month, and things that many of us may forget. In this case, however, you will also get a 90-day free trial (which is why I believe the subscription price could rise later).
Rai is looking inside Metro Ekodus , which is supported in GeForce Nov.
It will be difficult for some players to forget about the six-hour session limit. Most normal people probably won’t guess. But I admit that I occasionally leave for over six hours without checking out when I play Final Fantasy KSIV on weekends, so it could happen. As with the free service, you can still sign up if you run into a six-hour session limit, so you won’t be banned from playing more when you hit that mark.
Also a bit of a breeze: GeForce Nov doesn’t support all games on Steam, Epic and similar displays, but it does support quite a bit. These are games that are popular enough to require maintenance of such a setting. Other than about 30 popular free Fortnite games , many of the remaining 1,000 or so are somehow old. I couldn’t find brand new popular hits like Star Wars Jedi: Fire Order , Control or PC Dead Dead Redemption 2 , but I was able to find many of my favorites like Ax: Shadows Die Twice , PlayerUnknow’s Battlegrounds , and of course. Overvatch. Since none of those games arrived on the Mac, I call it a big win.
SAY GOODBYE TO VI-FI
However, for the best performance, I warmly suggest that you play on a wired connection. If Google’s Stadia has any real advantage over GeForce Nov, it’s good that it works on something as simple as my browser, even on my home trash Vi-Fi connection. GeForce New always seems to bother on Wi-Fi – and Nvidia itself suggests playing with at least a 5GHz network.
Our office Wi-Fi at Macworld isn’t bad: We get 181Mbps for downloads and 201Mbps for shipping, which is a lot more than the 30Mbps Nvidia recommends for 1080p60 streaming. But when I tried to play Witch 3 in the middle of working hours, the texture sometimes became so muddy that the screenshots could pass for the discarded canvases of the impressionist artist Monet.
On an Ethernet connection, though? Zero problem. In fact the Overwatch clip at the top of this story was recorded while I was hooked up to Ethernet. I didn’t want to try it, but Nvidia suggests that such a performance is possible even on a 2008 MacBook with at least macOS Iosemite .
Even considering those potential stumbles, it’s no exaggeration to say that Nvidia has changed the game. Hell, this is what the game allows us to do , for which Apple itself is not showing much interest. With this service, Nvidia manages to eliminate many common frustrations.
Now, for example, there’s no need to buy a ridiculously expensive 16-inch MacBook Pro in the hopes that maybe – maybe – you can play a modern blockbuster game on macOS at 30 frames per second at medium settings. Provided that your internet connection is strong enough, there is no question if you can start it with GeForce Nov. For that matter, you don’t have to sacrifice much of the often small MacBook hard drives to be able to share them at Boot Camp.
No reason to put around $ 1,000 into an external GPU and graphics card just to be able to play something that is graphically simple World of Warcraft on your MacBook with maximum settings.
And time is up If you haven’t heard, Mac gaming of late is in a particularly sorry place. Most developers seem to have stopped worrying, and it’s hard to blame them. Blizzard, which was famously used to simultaneously release PC and Mac games at once, has yet to release the Mac port from Overvatch five years after its release. The Elder Scrolls V: Skirim is so ported that it’s a joke in the gaming industry, but it still hasn’t worked for Mac.
You can get an idea why the developer may not be worried from last week’s report that developer Psionic is releasing Mac and Linux support for his popular Rocket League . As Ars Technica , non-Windows players account for just under 0.3 percent of players. Given that the number of players is so low, it is no wonder that Psionik offers compensation for players on these systems.
Here at Macvorld, I stopped writing a monthly review of the best Mac games because finding good games every month became as difficult as finding a Steve Jobs background on Google Pixel. A shameful number of games on my list of best Mac games have not yet been upgraded to support the transition from 32-bit to 64-bit in macOS Catalina, even in the case of simple games like Undertale .
And Maci is struggling to run games anyway, despite Apple’s efforts to teach developers to use its Metal API. As the YouTuber Quinn Nelson of Snazzi Labs showed last month, even the entry-level model of the new $ 6,000 Mac Pro has struggled to run some games at 30 fps. (Performance got better when Nelson dropped into the AMD 5700XT.) Even my 13-inch MacBook Pro is struggling to run some Apple Arcade games. No one buys a Mac expecting it to be a monster from the game, but this situation is ridiculous.
GeForce Nov does not eliminate all the problems of Mac games. In fact, it introduces some new ones. You may finally be able to run Witch 3 , but you are still in danger of eating your data plan. (Fortunately, GeForce Nov has a “Data Saver” mode that will only consume 4GB of data per hour, not the 10GB you can expect with the “Balanced” setting.) And I’m not entirely convinced that GeForce Nov will remain stable once shutters are opening today .
Leif Johnson / IDG
Take a look at some of the available options.
But let’s repeat some things that are worth repeating. Now you can play graphically demanding PC games that you already own on your old shiny MacBook logo without sharing the drive or doing something as funny as buying an eGPU. And you can do that for $ 4.99 a month!
You can win praise for Shot Caller in Overwatch and then Command-Tab press to try to find some AirPods Pro in stock in Safari. It’s the best Mac gameplay to look like in years, and unless Microsoft really manages to hit us with its Project kCloud , I don’t think it will look much better than this for a while.
Sure, we’ve heard some hidden rumors about ” Gaming Mac, ” But I trust those about as much as I believe reports that Steve Jobs is still alive and teaching yoga in Fresno. The fact is, the Mac gaming library is patently small, especially for blockbuster games. Who will raise a mountain of money to be able to play Rise of the Tomb Raider the way Feral Interactive intended us to do? I doubt it will be affordable, and I doubt it will be worth the wait.
When I talk about waiting, I’d get used to it. Currently, one of the big downsides of relying on GeForce Nov as your main gaming service on a Mac is that you will probably have to wait a while for games to become available. It may be years before we see them, especially at this time of a long exclusive deal of sales windows like the Epic Game store.
Think of it this way: We Mac players are used to waiting. Last year, Rise of the Tomb Raider came to Mac. Games like Overvatch we never came to, and we expected them not to, as we did with so many other titles.
But now, at least we can be sure that there is a realistic chance.
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