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Tycho / on Wed, Mar 11 2020 at 12:01 am

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Now You’ve Done It

At some level, at some future point, game streaming is gonna be a thing. I can imagine a universe where that's the case. I do imagine things professionally, though, so that might not necessarily be an index of its inevitability. It might instead be a reflection of my capacity - honed over decades and bolstered by entheogens at varying levels of legality - to birth the impossible.

It is precisely because I don't give a shit about streaming, and because I own local hardware capable of admirably depicting today's content, that I didn't really look into GeForce Now. To the extent that such a person even exists, I am not the quarry for this kind of thing. It's not like aberrant things never happen on local machines, but they're different aberrant things - often ones I can exert some control over. I guess I thought that at some level GeForce Now was just a rebranding of Nvidia Grid, their elder streaming platform, which is more comparable to PlayStation Now than it would be to something like Stadia. The difference being that, with the former two, you're essentially buying into a library of games you can play, while with Stadia - incredibly - you're being asked to buy full priced versions of games you can only stream.

I was profoundly wrong on the Grid thing. Would you be surprised to learn that the current execution of GeForce Now doesn't map to either of the scenarios I just described? I kept reading about how games were "leaving" the service, which made me feel like it was one of those two. And I was like, man. Super weird that they could just rescind your purchases like that, or that they wouldn't have things locked down legally. It didn't add up. So I installed it to see what they meant, and it was clear once I saw the screen some up where the problem was.

You can sign in with your Google account. So when I say that I had the answers I was looking for in less than five minutes, it's not an exaggeration. I saw the list of games in the window, particularly Curse Of The Dead Gods, which is fucking excellent. Imagine a roguelike that provides a credible Diablo ARPG arc but actually feels good to play…? They did that somehow and it's not even out all the way. Anyway. I saw that, and I already owned it on Steam, but I wanted to take a look at it on here. When I clicked play, it took me to a sort of greyish hexagonal wallpaper, and gave me a Steam login prompt. It clearly wasn't fullscreen resolution; it had that softness.

Oh, I thought. This isn't a "streaming service" at all - not like it's been discussed.  It's not even attempting to be.  It's a rental service for cloud computers. GeForce Now doesn't even sell the games! You rent - or don't rent, in my case, because you can use sessions of up to an hour for free - high powered but remote systems to stream games from your existing library to PC, Mac, or Android. Or Nvidia Shield, right, but it's like... c'mon.

So: now that you know what you know, that these games have been purchased by you, under what possible pretext could somebody say you couldn't use it? I can stream a Steam game from upstairs into the basement, or via the Steam Link app, but I can't log into a remote computer with my own credentials and use stuff I already paid you for? Under what auspices? The issue is simply that they don't like it.  They can't identify how, exactly, but they have the sense that somebody should be paying them for this.  I'll be surprised if there's a way of making that case without undermining some pretty fundamental consumer protections. That is to say: I'll be surprised if there's a way of making this case that doesn't make the case maker look something very much like an asshole.

(CW)TB out.


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