Back in March, Yes 5G and NVIDIA surprised everyone when they announced that the latter’s GeForce Now was coming to Malaysia—albeit in a beta period for now. We’ve been
playing video games at work testing it out thoroughly and seeing just how well cloud gaming is right now in Malaysia.
So what’s NVIDIA GeForce Now anyway?
NVIDIA GeForce Now is basically a cloud gaming service, allowing you to stream your video game rather than play it directly on your device itself. Yes 5G had apparently partnered up with NVIDIA to bring GeForce Now to Malaysia, with a free beta period for Yes 5G users only going on since 17 March.
During this free beta period, any Yes 5G user who signed up for it will get a Premium plan subscription, allowing for RTX-capable gameplay with 6 hours of non-stop gaming per session. You also get higher priority access to games compared to regular free-tier users (GeForce Now has a free tier in several other countries). The Premium plan will allow you to play/stream games at 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second.
There are some obvious benefits to cloud gaming compared to traditional gaming. For starters, you don’t need to actually have gaming hardware. Instead, you can play/stream your game off any support device, which ranges from Windows laptops and desktops to Macs, certain smart TVs, tablets as well as your smartphone. You also don’t need to actually download any game, with NVIDIA claiming that GeForce Now games are always up-to-date.
Perhaps the biggest caveat to NVIDIA GeForce Now though is that it’s not a game library or a game store. That is to say, you can’t sign up for NVIDIA GeForce Now and that just play any of the games they have in there. Instead, you can think of NVIDIA GeForce Now as a middleman of sorts, giving you the hardware to enjoy the games that you’ve bought on Steam, Epic or Ubisoft before this but couldn’t play because your own PC wasn’t good enough. You do however need to ensure that they game you want to play is actually in the GeForce Now catalog.
At the moment, the GeForce Now beta period ends today (10 April 2023), but we can expect Yes 5G and NVIDIA to fully launch their cloud gaming service in Malaysia soon.
[ UPDATE 11/4/23 ] : It seems that upon expiry of the free exclusive beta, Yes 5G has now extended the promotional period for a couple more days. This means that any of you currently using GeForce Now via the exclusive beta can enjoy it till the 13th of April. More details on that here.
Original article continued below.
Cyberpunk 2077… on a MacBook?
Alright so within these past few weeks, I’ve been trying out the cloud gaming platform for myself and honestly, it’s pretty decent. I mean, before this, I wouldn’t even have dreamt that playing Cyberpunk 2077 on a (comparatively speaking) wimpy MacBook; even my own gaming PC at home struggles at times.
With NVIDIA GeForce Now however, I was able to stream/play Cyberpunk 2077 at Full HD resolution with all the settings cranked up to Ultra and yet still enjoy buttery smooth gameplay and take in the views of Night City—well, almost buttery smooth anyway. NVIDIA is capping the frame rate on Cyberpunk 2077 to just 45fps despite its service definitely being able to handle more than that. A few other games have had their frame rates limited to, such as Guardians of the Galaxy.
Nevertheless, it’s still perfectly playable. I mean, even on my own gaming PC that’s a little aged now unfortunately, I was getting between 45-60fps anyway and that was with just medium-high settings and with DLSS turned on. This is where GeForce Now really shines, as these blockbuster single player games such as Cyberpunk 2077, Dying Light 2 or Control often times have pretty high hardware requirements.
Dying Light 2 for example recommends you have an AMD Ryzen 5 3600X or newer with at least 16GB of RAM and a massive 60GB of storage available. This is on top of needing an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 too if you want 60fps gaming at 1080p. Cyberpunk 2077 meanwhile also has some rather high requirements such as a 4th Gen Intel Core i7 or better with at least 12GB of RAM and a Geforce RTX 2060 too for 60fps at 1440p.
With NVIDIA GeForce Now then, you no longer need your own high end gaming PC. This means that if you’re on a budget and don’t have a computer, or maybe your gaming PC is starting to show its age, you can sign up for this cloud gaming platform and simply play it there instead. All you need really is just a GeForce Now-supported device such as a laptop, and a steady internet connection.
We recommend fibre internet for now even though GeForce Now is working with Yes 5G for this, as we just didn’t see enough consistency in latency for a smooth experience. It was still playable though for Cyberpunk 2077, but when it comes to your multiplayer games…
It’s far from perfect however
…I definitely wouldn’t recommend GeForce Now if your intention is to play competitive, fast paced eSport titles.
The reason why single player games such as Cyberpunk 2077 tend to work so well on a cloud gaming service is that, well, it’s single player. This means that even if there’s a sudden spike in latency, it’s much more forgiving and you’ll likely never even notice it. Similarly, strategy titles such as Total War: Three Kingdoms and Humankind also work really well here as you can take your time each turn to plan your moves on the map.
Play games such as Dota 2 or Counter Strike: Global Offensive however, and you’ll notice every single little lag spike especially when it costs you the kill or worse, the win.
Even when using fibre broadband, the inconsistency with the game stream was jarring enough that fast paced games such as CS:GO just wasn’t enjoyable. You can really feel the delay between moving your mouse and having your character move accordingly, particularly when trying to get flick shots off. Again, it’s much more forgiving in a story-based single player game or a grand strategy title, but it’s just not good enough for multiplayer at the moment, be it due to our domestic internet or NVIDIA’s servers not being up to par.
It’s also worth noting that when you’re using a cloud gaming service, the ‘ping’ number you’re seeing in game actually refers to the connection between the GeForce Now Yes 5G server and the game server, not between the device you’re using to stream and the gamer server. That’s why when in CS:GO for example, we were seeing ‘ping’ numbers of just 20ms, when it felt more like 200ms.
It gets even worse when trying to use a Yes 5G connection to stream gameplay. The slight latency issues from before remain, but due to the inconsistent download speeds, you end up getting a 360p stream at times instead of the high resolution gameplay you should’ve been getting. It’ll switch back to 1080p once your connection stabilises, but it does get rather annoying after a while.
There’s still a lot of potential here
Despite my concerns, I still think that cloud gaming has a big future ahead in Malaysia. The locals here love to play video games, but the limiting factor has often been cost. Gaming PCs and laptops will set most people back a small fortune, while consoles such as the PS5 aren’t much cheaper either. That’s perhaps one reason why mobile gaming has flourished here; everyone’s going to need a phone anyway, but a gaming PC isn’t exactly a necessity.
With GeForce Now though, Yes 5G and NVIDIA could tap into this demographic, showing them that they can play even the latest video games off their phone or laptop. They will however need to iron out the kinks that we’ve seen so far during their beta test, such as the stability of the stream.
If they can polish their cloud gaming service just that bit more, GeForce Now could end up becoming the next big thing in the local gaming scene. Even I might be tempted to get it just so that I can play my games on the go without needing to lug around a heavy gaming laptop. We’ll just have to see if Yes 5G and NVIDIA can come good with the minor details when GeForce Now makes its proper public launch in Malaysia.