Today, GeForce Now became the first publicly available cloud gaming service to officially support iOS devices, but there’s a catch - you’ll only be able to play through the Safari browser, rather than a dedicated app. That’s also the solution that Microsoft will be using for iOS support of its xCloud service sometime next year, and Google announced today that it’s planning a similar iOS web app expansion for Stadia in the coming weeks.
It’s currently in beta, but starting today, you can now access GeForce Now from the iPhone and iPad versions of the Safari browser. There is one limitation, though. For now, you’ll have to use one of the service's supported controllers, like the Xbox One controller or the mobile-first Razer Kishi, since "keyboard and mouse-only games aren't available." But Nvidia is otherwise promising full featured game streaming, barring potential beta issues. This includes RTX ray-tracing and Nvidia DLSS super-sampling.
This marks a first for cloud gaming on iOS. The App Store currently bans game streaming services like GeForce Now, xCloud and Stadia from the app store unless they submit every game on their platforms for app store review and subject them to Apple’s 30% app store commission. Customers would also have to download each game individually, even if they’re played off the cloud. Of course, not every company’s willing to jump through those hoops.
“This remains a bad experience for customers,” Microsoft told The Verge earlier this September. “Gamers want to jump directly into a game from their curated catalog within one app just like they do with movies or songs, and not be forced to download over 100 apps to play individual games from the cloud.”
Nvidia’s solution isn’t exactly novel, but it is among the first to offer it to users. Amazon launched Luna, which is currently in early trials, with a web app as well. Earlier this October, Business Insider also reported that Microsoft told employees to expect xCloud to wind up on iOS via browser within 2021, and Google announced today that it’s also planning to bring Stadia to iOS as a web app in the “coming weeks.”
The elephant in the room here is Fortnite, which Apple pulled from iOS earlier this August after Epic introduced an in-app payment system that bypassed the typical App Store commission. Epic is now in a legal battle with Apple over the App Store that might change how games and services like GeForce Now release on iOS even further down the line, but for now, Nvidia’s workaround means the popular shooter will be coming back to iOS soon. And, unlike the rest of GeForce Now’s iOS-compatible catalog, you’ll be able to play it without a controller.
“Alongside the amazing team at Epic Games, we’re working to enable a touch-friendly version of Fortnite,” Nvidia said in its GeForce Now on Safari announcement post. “Members can look for the game on iOS Safari soon."
GeForce Now on Safari actually isn’t the first time Nvidia’s brought it’s cloud gaming solution to browsers, either. The service is also currently available on Chrome, though only if you’re using a Chromebook.
None of this is ideal, nor is hardware really the issue here so much as App Store rules. But with Nvidia saying that 10% of its user base currently plays on Chromebook, maybe it’s a sign that we can expect services like this to expand to even more devices and distribution methods in the near future.