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Nvidia bringing PS4 Share Play-like streaming into GeForce Experience next month

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Nvidia's GeForce Experience software offers a way for players to stream games and automatically optimize graphics settings across their entire game library. Now the company is looking to make GeForce Experience — and, by extension, Nvidia GPUs — more attractive by making it easier for players to share their gaming experiences with others.

In September, Nvidia will launch a beta of Share, a suite of new features in GeForce Experience. Share consists of four main components: instant replay, record, stream and broadcast. The first, second and fourth modes expand on the software's existing game capture feature, Nvidia ShadowPlay.

Instant replay introduces the ability to save gameplay highlights — you can tweak default settings like length, frame rate and bitrate — and allows you to trim the clips right in GeForce Experience and upload them to YouTube. The feature works similarly to "Xbox, record that" on Xbox One, Windows 10's Game bar or Raptr's client. The record feature saves clips to your computer's hard drive, which ShadowPlay has been doing since launch. Unlike the aforementioned similar services, GeForce Experience can save and upload clips at resolutions of up to 4K and frame rates as high as 60 frames per second.

We watched Nvidia demonstrate the instant replay feature during a presentation last week. GeForce Experience allows you to edit clips down to the section you want, then add a title and an optional stamp with your PC's configuration. An Nvidia representative then began the upload, and within seconds, refreshed a connected YouTube account to show that the process had begun on YouTube's end. The broadcast option in Share offers one-click access to livestreaming your game on Twitch, another feature that's been part of ShadowPlay for a long time.

The biggest new feature coming to GeForce Experience with Share is called GameStream Co-op, which essentially brings the PlayStation 4's Share Play feature to PC gamers. Anybody with a GeForce GTX 650 or above will be able to use the feature to demo a game to a friend, let that person take over the controls or bring them in for co-op play. GameStream Co-op only works between two people, but the advantage of using it rather than, say, Twitch to show a game to someone else is that there's virtually no delay between the host and viewer.

You start the stream by sending an email invite to someone from GeForce Experience. They don't need a gaming PC to join you; the feature works in Google Chrome on "pretty much any PC," according to Tom Petersen, distinguished engineer at Nvidia. You just have to install a browser extension from Nvidia to be able to accept the invite.

Nvidia demonstrated GameStream Co-op with Frozenbyte's Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power. An Nvidia rep streamed his game to Petersen, who took over the controls to solve a puzzle for him. (GameStream supports keyboard and mouse, or any PC-compatible controller.) Then, since Trine 3 supports co-op play, Petersen jumped into the game alongside his partner and they teamed up to solve a platforming puzzle.

"You can play the game like you're both sitting in front of the same PC," said Petersen. "The game thinks we're both directly connected."

GameStream Co-op works by sending a compressed video feed, along with control inputs, over the internet to a browser; it uses the same technology GameStream uses to stream games to a Shield device. Like Share Play on the PS4, Nvidia caps sessions at one hour, but there's no limit on the number of sessions.

When Sony launched Share Play last October, streams were limited to 720p resolution at 30 fps; a PS4 firmware update in March added support for 60 fps streaming. GameStream Co-op will launch at 720p30, and Nvidia is recommending a minimum bandwidth of 7 mbps on both sides. The video feed won't initially scale depending on the available bandwidth, but Petersen said, "I think as we get more sophisticated, we'll do bandwidth management and quality managing, matching the available uplink."

Nvidia GeForce card image 720

Nvidia introduces the GeForce GTX 950

GameStream Co-op requires at least a GeForce GTX 650, which is almost three years old by now. Today, Nvidia is launching its latest entry-level graphics card, the GeForce GTX 950. Petersen told Polygon that at a price of $159, the GPU is "targeted to kind of nestle right in between" the seven-month-old GTX 960 ($199) and the GTX 750 Ti ($119), which launched in February 2014.

Here's the strongest argument in favor of buying the GTX 950, in Petersen's words: "Our GPU at the entry level is now surpassing the consoles." The GTX 950 offers three times the performance of the GTX 650, according to Nvidia, and it delivers 60 fps gaming at 1080p on medium settings in the latest games — including Far Cry 4, Grand Theft Auto 5 and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

And as with the GTX 960, Nvidia is focusing on players of multiplayer online battle arena games, an ever-growing market that now numbers 30 million monthly active players. It's a genre where responsiveness is king — tenths of a second could mean the difference between winning and losing a lot of money — so Nvidia has targeted response time with the GTX 950. Thanks to latency optimizations and a faster rendering process, Nvidia was able to cut down response time in Dota 2 from 80 milliseconds with the GTX 650 to 45 milliseconds with the GTX 950. You can see that in the tech demo below.

Nvidia is also using GeForce Experience to deliver a better MOBA experience. The software will now contain two separate optimization settings for games such as Dota 2, League of Legends and Heroes of the Storm: the default one, and a second labeled "optimize for high FPS low latency." In Dota 2, that option will turn down some settings like shadow quality and texture quality while disabling v-sync and setting the refresh rate to 100 Hz, all in the name of providing a more responsive gameplay experience.

After all, said Petersen, "When the fights happen is when you need the most performance."

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