The Sunset of NVIDIA GameStream

I just purchased Baulder’s Gate 3, installed the game, added the game to the Geoforce Experience application, then walk back to my living room to use my NVIDIA Shield to play the game. Just one problem the Geofore Now application no longer shows any local games or my desktop computer.

NVIDIA announced in 2023 that they are ending support for their GameStream streaming software. This software allowed users to stream games from their NVIDIA GPU-powered PCs to devices like the NVIDIA Shield. As an early adopter and fan of GameStream, I’m disappointed by this decision.

Why I Loved GameStream

I created a YouTube video showing off my latency and bandwidth results using GameStream from my desktop PC to my TV. GameStream provided an extremely stable and efficient game streaming solution compared to alternatives like Steam Link. It handled high resolutions and frame rates well for a majority of titles, with minimal compression artifacts or input lag.

AI upscaling from to 4K on my NVIDIA Shield also workerd well. GameStream enabled me to play cutting edge games in my living room without needing to have computer equipment close to the TV where I was playing.

What Happens Now?

NVIDIA is promoting their GeForce NOW cloud gaming service as an alternative to local game streaming. However, NOW requires a constant high speed internet connection, and can’t match the latency of a local network.

Thankfully the open source Moonlight project reverse engineered the GameStream protocol. As long as NVIDIA keeps the GameStream server enabled in GeForce Experience, Moonlight clients can still stream from PCs with NVIDIA graphics cards. One area where I found Moolight performed better than GameStream was dynamic resolution resizing.I have a 2k ultrawide monitor 3440 x 1440 and a 4K TV 3840 x 2160. The Nvidia client struggled with resolution selection and things would end up distorted. I would have to turn off the primary monitor and select a second monitor that was 1080p. Nowadays I don’t have the second monitor so I was not sure how this was going to work. Moonlight + Shield handle this flawlessly. First Moonlight auto selects the resolution closest to the TV aspect ratio. Then the Shield uses AI up scaling to 4K and I must say I’m impressed.

For wider hardware support, the Sunshine project implements the GameStream protocol and supports NVIDIA, AMD and Intel GPUs. Early reports show it meets or exceeds Steam Link performance, but still falls slightly short of GameStream.

The Future of Local Game Streaming

I’m hopeful that projects like Moonlight and Sunshine can fill the gap left by GameStream’s discontinuation. Local game streaming is an awesome technology that deserves continued support across all hardware vendors. But only time will tell if the community-driven solutions can completely match the quality of NVIDIA’s proprietary solution.