Nvidia and Valve are keen to make Team Green’s GeForce Now streaming service work better on the Steam Deck for those who engage in cloud gaming on the portable (and yes, there are reasons why you might want to do so – we’ll come back to that).
As PC Gamer (opens in new tab) reports, this came from Andrew Fear, who is Director of Product Management for GeForce Now at Nvidia, and told our sister site that: “There is not a native app on Steam Deck today. Use a Chromium browser to make it work. I would say that both Nvidia and Valve, I think we’re both interested in making [GeForce Now on Steam Deck] better. But we don’t have any announcements on a native app coming to Steam.”
As Fear observes, right now if you want to stream games via GeForce Now on the Steam Deck, you need to do so in a Chromium browser (like Chrome or Edge).
However, as you might guess, running in a browser is not the best experience for GeForce Now – it makes certain things very clunky, particularly around the interface and game controls – and a native app would represent a big step forward for the Steam Deck.
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The problem here is that Fear’s statement is very vague. While saying that both Nvidia and Valve want to make GeForce Now a better experience on the Steam Deck, there’s no suggestion of how that might happen – and what’s more, the clarification that there’s no native app in the works doesn’t feel very positive. This is just a hint that things will be improved, rather than anything remotely concrete.
While it’s good to see that signaled, there’s really nothing to get excited about yet. Whether there will ever be a native Linux app for GeForce Now, well, we’re uncertain about that, shall we say. It’s a minority gaming platform to say the least (1.4% of all gamers on Steam as of the last Valve hardware survey), and unless the Steam Deck (which runs Linux, SteamOS to be precise) really becomes a big thing in the future, it’s likely not worth the effort in terms of the necessary development time and costs for now.
As to why you might want to stream games via GeForce Now on the Steam Deck? Well, for starters, it’s one way of saving battery life, with it being far less demanding to run GeForce Now in the browser than it is to get the Steam Deck running certain games natively. Demanding titles can absolutely demolish the handheld’s battery, of course, whereas streaming GeForce Now can give you multiple hours of longevity (reportedly in the order of five hours, from the comments we’ve seen).
It also allows for the ability to play some games which aren’t compatible with the Steam Deck and can’t be run at all. That includes games with anti-cheat features that don’t play nice with the Proton compatibility layer the Steam Deck relies on. Furthermore, besides non-functional titles, there may be other games which are glitchy or run sub-optimally on the Deck, and streaming those could be a much better experience, too (while saving battery).
The trade-off with streaming as ever is that the smoothness of gameplay you’ll experience is down to the speed of your internet connection.