PlayStation Now and Nvidia’s GeForce Now are two of the oldest cloud gaming services, the former just updating its pricing to compete with the likes of Google Stadia and the latter finally being released by Nvidia after a long beta period. Although they’re two of the best cloud gaming services around, only one can win in this GeForce Now vs PlayStation Now comparison.
We’re going to put the two head to head in features, pricing, game support, platform support, performance, coverage and ease of use, seeing which offers the best overall experience. We’ll dish out points for whichever competitor does better in a particular round, declaring an overall winner at the end.
Still, we recommend reading our GeForce Now review and PlayStation Now review. In those, we go in depth on performance, coverage, pricing and more, comparing our competitors to the rest of the market instead of just each other.
Setting Up a Fight: GeForce Now vs PlayStation Now
Over the next few thousand words, we’ll be comparing GeForce Now and PlayStation Now feature for feature. We have seven rounds, each of which is worth a point. Throughout these rounds, we’ll talk about the differences between each service and why we prefer one or the other. At the end, we’ll declare a winner and award a point.
Of course, whichever service has more points will be our champion. In some cases, however, it’s not that cut and dry. For instance, PlayStation Now, developed by Sony, is available in multiple countries around the world, while Nvidia GeForce Now is limited to the U.S. and most European countries. Because of that, the best service for you may be different than our final winner.
That’s why we recommend reading through the rounds, rather than just skimming the winners. We’ll award a winner each time, though the reasons for awarding that point may change based on different circumstances. With that out of the way, let’s start at the top.
1. Game Library
GeForce Now, similar to services like Vortex, has a licensed library of games that you can play with the service (read our Vortex review). Although all of the supported titles use a DRM platform like Steam, the publisher can choose if its game is a part of GeForce Now or not, which, as you can see in our Shadow vs GeForce Now comparison, isn’t a good thing.
There are a lot of games missing from GeForce Now, with companies like Blizzard and Bethesda pulling support from the platform. GeForce Now still covers the essentials, with support for Warframe, Rocket League, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Fortnite, but if you’re looking to play a certain game, GeForce Now may not support it.
PlayStation Now has a limited library of games, too, though not in the same way as GeForce Now. When you buy a subscription, you’re not only buying into the cloud gaming aspect of PlayStation Now, but also a library of more than 800 games. Immediately after signing up, you can get in on the action without the need to buy games.
Compared to a service like Shadow — you can see how they match up in our Shadow vs PlayStation Now comparison — PS Now feels limited. However, compared to GeForce Now, the library shines.
Although you don’t get to choose which games make their way onto the service, PlayStation Now offers a wide enough range of titles to satisfy most players. We like to think of it being similar to Netflix, in that way.
You don’t have to stream all of those games, either. Because PS Now supports the PS4, you can download some games — around 300 of the supported list — locally to your console. In that case, you’ll get the best quality without any issues due to network latency.
GeForce Now has the ability to pull from a larger pool of games. There are simply more games available on PC than PS4. However, its current support looks lackluster compared to PS Now. Until GeForce Now can implement a system like Shadow’s — read our Shadow review for more on that — Sony’s offering will be superior.
Pricing is a little sticky for GeForce Now. There are two tiers of service, a free and a paid option. The Founders paid option, however, is only for “founding members.” In practice, that means the listed price of $5 per month is good for only the first 12 months of service. After a year, there’s no saying what price GeForce Now will be.
PlayStation Now has been around for a while, with the only price change being a decrease late in 2019. Although the service used to run around $20 per month, it’s now only $10 per month if you pay monthly, and half as much if you buy a year upfront. A free tier would be nice, but it’s hard to complain with how cheap PS Now is.
GeForce Now may be cheaper on paper, but that’s ignoring the fact that its price will change. Still, there are a few reasons to buy into GeForce Now, even in its growing stages. Founders get a 90-day introductory period where they can try out the service free of charge. You still need to commit to a subscription, but your first three months of game streaming are free.
Additionally, GeForce Now gives more options to those who pay. For instance, users with a Founders membership don’t have to queue for games, while free members may have to. PlayStation Now, on the other hand, says that all subscribers may have to queue, no matter how much you’re paying.
Despite their differences, this round is tough to call. We’re inclined to give it to PlayStation Now because its price, at the very least, is set in stone. That said, GeForce Now is cheaper at the time of writing. Furthermore, it offers a free tier and greater variety for those who want to pay, pushing it in the lead this round.
Both of our competitors are fairly limited in terms of features, skipping past things like resolution options. For the most part, it comes down to controller support and platform support, both of which favor GeForce Now. PlayStation Now, however, has one unique offering: local play.
Starting there, PS Now has a library of about 300 games within the 800+ supported titles that you can download locally to your PS4. In that case, you’ll get the full resolution and frame rate of the game, no matter if you’re connected to the internet or not. Unfortunately, this feature is only available on the PS4; PC users are restricted to the cloud.
However, it’s not all thumbs up for PS4. In addition to being limited to PC and PS4 — more on that in the “platform support” round — you can only use a DualShock 4 with the service. PS Now doesn’t support keyboard and mouse or third party controllers.
Worse than that, though, you may have to queue for games if the demand is high enough. In such a situation, Sony says “it’s impossible to guess how long you will be waiting.”
GeForce Now doesn’t support local play, but it makes up for it with much broader controller and platform support. In addition to keyboard and mouse support, GeForce Now supports just about any controller that can connect to your PC or mobile device. It even supports Switch-esque mobile controllers, such as the Razer Junglecat.
For us, cloud gaming is all about options, allowing you to play whatever game you want, on any device you want. That includes controllers. GeForce Now allows players to use whatever they feel comfortable with, while PlayStation Now forces the use of first-party hardware. Although PS Now’s download feature is nice, we’re going to have to give this round to Nvidia GeForce Now.
To keep everything on even footing, we tested similar games on PlayStation Now and GeForce Now, including a fast-paced shooter, a precision platformer and a notoriously difficult game. Of course, there are RPGs, strategy games and more from our two competitors, but those don’t stretch the limits of responsiveness and rendering in the same way.
Starting with GeForce Now, we tested Doom 2016, Cuphead and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Doom and Cuphead ran wonderfully at GeForce Now’s locked 1080p resolution, often pushing above 100 frames per second. Counter-Strike was just as impressive, though the occasional streaming hiccup would prove too much in a competitive setting.
Although the games we tested looked great, we hoped for 4K support in GeForce Now’s full release. When we tested the beta many months ago, we were easily able to achieve 60fps at 4K in Doom. Now that the service has been released to the public, resolutions are locked to full HD, even if you have enough framerate overhead to justify a higher resolution.
However, 1080p looks like a dream compared to PlayStation Now. For our testing, we played a few hours of Bloodborne, Mighty No. 9 and Doom 2016. The games ran smoothly for the most part, though we encountered more video streaming artifacts and input lag compared to GeForce Now.
Despite the slight difference in performance, this round comes down to resolution. PS Now is locked to 720p, which is maddening. It’s difficult to even find a display these days that natively runs in 720p, no matter if you’re on the PS4 or your PC.
Furthermore, with the PS4 Pro supporting 4K output, many users will find themselves using only a ninth of their TV’s available pixels.
PlayStation Now performs much better than it did a few years back, but even with the streaming improvements, the low resolution is a killer. Although Sony could get away with 720p streaming a few years ago, displays have moved far past that resolution, making it obsolete for any full-screen application.
5. Platform Support
Platform support is where we see an even greater difference than performance between GeForce Now and PlayStation Now. Sony’s offering is very limited, able to run only on PC and PS4. Nvidia’s service, while not as robust as Shadow in terms of platform support, can run on a long list of different hardware.
Currently, GeForce Now is available on Windows, macOS, Android and Nvidia Shield (you can also read our guide to the best VPN for Nvidia Shield). The macOS support is huge, as is full Android support. Even massive cloud gaming services like Google Stadia struggle when it comes to mobile devices (read our Google Stadia review for more on that, and see how it compares in our Google Stadia vs GeForce Now piece). There aren’t any GeForce Now apps for smart TVs yet, but support on the Shield fills that role nicely.
As we’ve pointed out before with PlayStation Now, it doesn’t capture what cloud gaming is all about: the ability to play your games anywhere and anytime you want. GeForce Now captures that spirit perfectly, allowing you to stream games no matter if you’re on your TV, computer or phone.
6. Ease of Use
Ease of use is an interesting round, as neither GeForce Now nor PlayStation Now has it totally figured out. Starting with the former, GeForce Now has an attractive and easy-to-understand application, both on Windows and Android. However, it’s simple to a fault, making a task as mundane as adding a game to your library feel like a chore.
Rather than showing a library page or a list of supported games, GeForce Now gives you a search bar. When you want to add a game to your library, you can search for it and click “add.” Then, the game will show up in your library. Your library, however, is a slider that displays only five games at a time.
Although GeForce Now shows information about each game in your library — including the developer, controller support and release date — there isn’t a dedicated page to view all of your library at once. You’re stuck scrolling though your games five and a half at a time, which can quickly become obnoxious if you have a Steam library of 100 or more.
Unfortunately, PlayStation Now isn’t much better. The PS4 application is fine, fitting perfectly with the PS4’s OS and controller support. On PC, however, PS Now struggles. You’re forced to scroll through games line by line, in a Netflix-esque fashion. Although that navigation works for a remote or a controller, it feels slow and clunky on a keyboard and mouse.
Furthermore, there’s no way to search, filter or browse games on the PC application. You can scroll through Sony’s curated lists, and that’s it. The PC application is, from what we can tell, a straight port of the PS4 one, which shows either a misunderstanding or disregard for how app usability should be on a desktop.
Both of our competitors are subpar this round, making even a mediocre cloud gaming service like Blacknut look good (read our Blacknut review). On PS4, PlayStation Now is the winner. However, we’d suspect there’s a greater portion of people interested in cloud gaming on other platforms, and on that front GeForce Now is the winner, despite all of its missteps.
Sony has a huge advantage with PlayStation Now when it comes to coverage. Not only has PS Now been around longer than GeForce Now, but Sony has existing infrastructure from the PlayStation Network, or PSN.
In the same way that Microsoft is able to use its Azure network for Project xCloud, Sony can use its PSN servers for PlayStation Now (read our Project xCloud review).
The list of supported countries is lengthy, with it including Austria, Canada, Finland, Denmark, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.S. and the UK. That said, it’s unclear how much server space Sony is dedicating to PlayStation Now.
Given that users may have to queue and that we experienced a decent amount of input lag, we’re inclined to think that Sony isn’t dedicating very much horsepower to its cloud gaming network. It covers a lot more distance than GeForce Now, but at a great cost to performance.
Nvidia’s approach is much more modest, covering the U.S. and most countries in Europe. On GeForce Now’s status page, there’s also mention of “alliance partner” servers in Japan and Russia, suggesting that the service will be available in more regions soon.
Although it has less physical area than PlayStation Now, GeForce Now is more equipped to handle the regions it supports, with multiple servers and plenty of overhead. PlayStation Now has more servers and a larger network, but they’re spread too thin, leading to performance issues. Because of that, we’re giving GeForce Now the win for this final round.
8. Final Thoughts
GeForce Now is the clear winner of this comparison, beating out PlayStation Now in six of our seven rounds. Although the service has experienced a few growing pains in the last few months, it’s shaping up to be a contender in the cloud gaming space. In terms of performance, at least, it’s among the best.
Winner: GeForce Now
Still, PlayStation Now has merit. In many ways, it’s similar to Xbox Game Pass, allowing you to download more than 300 games to your console. For that purpose, PS Now is great. Cloud gaming, on the other hand, is a different story. Although PS Now has improved over the years, the locked resolution, queuing and input lag are too much.
Do you agree that GeForce Now is the winner? Are you a subscriber to either service? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.