GeForce Experience Celebrates First Anniversary
A year ago we launched GeForce Experience, a free downloadable application designed to make PC gaming easier and more enjoyable. Its flagship Optimal Playable Settings feature was lauded by press, being called “important for PC gaming moving forward”, as the industry looked to new markets and demographics for continued growth. For these PC newcomers, and for existing players, configuring PC games was a daunting task due to acronym-laced settings menus filled with dozens of options, and undocumented detail levels. With a single click, GeForce Experience solved this age-old problem, automatically configuring games to give players the perfect balance between performance and image quality, based on their specific system specifications.
Following 2.5 million downloads and over 30,000 pieces of feedback, we officially released GeForce Experience to the world in May 2013 with version 1.5. Included were dozens of improvements, in addition to the ability to automatically download and install the latest GeForce GTX graphics drivers and profiles, directly through GeForce Experience itself.
Several iterative in-app updates followed before our next major update, which introduced the ability to stream games from GeForce GTX 600 and 700 Series Kepler PCs to the NVIDIA SHIELD, the world’s most powerful gaming and entertainment handheld. This critically-acclaimed innovation enabled remote gaming from the comfort of your sofa or bed, a feature which has itself been updated to allow streaming to HDTVs and other screens, creating a wireless, remote, full-screen, big-screen gaming experience. Today, over 60 titles are officially supported, with new titles added each month; many unofficially supported titles are as-enjoyable, and there’s a strong SHIELD community that shares the latest tips and tricks for boosting their compatibility.
At the close of October we launched GeForce Experience 1.7, one of the most anticipated software releases in NVIDIA’s decade-long history. At the forefront of 1.7 was GeForce ShadowPlay Beta, a revolutionary gameplay capture tool that had gamers salivating since its announcement in May. Unlike traditional software capture applications, ShadowPlay utilizes H.264 encoder chips built into every GeForce GTX 600 and 700 Series Kepler GPU to capture gameplay on a hardware level, minimizing the performance impact associated with gameplay capture. Furthermore, gameplay recording has minimal impact on hard disk usage, recorded H.264 files are considerably smaller than those of favored software solutions, and said files are automatically compatible with YouTube’s upload service, removing the need to reencode and compress before distribution to the masses.
The real talking point, however, was the DVR-like Shadow Mode, which constantly records up to 20 minutes of gameplay to a buffer, ready to be permanently saved to disk upon the press of a user-defined hotkey. With this innovative addition, any “did you see that?!” moment from a gameplay session can be instantly saved to disk, and all the boring bits instantly discarded. Previous capture solutions required continuous recording, filling hard drives with hours of unwanted footage; of course, should you wish to record continually, ShadowPlay caters to your needs with a traditional Manual recording mode, too. And as with Shadow recordings, the performance impact is minimal, file sizes are lower than those of many software solutions, and the recordings are ready for instant upload to video sharing sites.
As if the addition of ShadowPlay wasn’t enough, GeForce Experience 1.7 also introduced NVIDIA GameStream 1.0, an enhanced, official release of our PC-to-SHIELD game streaming service. And as well as GameStream, we added the GeForce GTX LED Visualizer, which enables customization of LEDs on GeForce GTX GPUs, and the ability to apply one-click Optimal Playable Settings on Ultra HD 4K systems, too. All-in-all, 1.7 lived up to its billing, solidifying GeForce Experience’s position as one of the most essential applications a gamer can download.
A little more than a month later, we unleashed GeForce Experience 1.8, which radically overhauled our Optimal Playable Settings feature by adding a number of user-adjustable options. These new Adjustable Optimal Playable Settings enable the preference of performance over image quality, and vice versa, in addition to the customization of the resolution and screen mode. Changes made are instantly reflected in the settings display above the customization panel, and as with the original Optimal Playable Settings implementation, said changes can be instantly applied with a single click, and the game launched directly from GeForce Experience with a further click.
Just two weeks later we gave gamers an early Christmas present: the ability to stream gameplay to Twitch, directly through GeForce Experience using ShadowPlay Beta’s capture technology. Contained within GeForce Experience 1.8.1., this much-anticipated update further extended the capabilities of GeForce Experience, and gave gamers an easy-to-use, free, one-click Twitch.tv solution that ‘just works’, without the requirement for additional hardware or software. And unlike other solutions, the player’s framerate isn’t capped to the framerate of the stream, keeping gameplay silky-smooth for the streamer.
This week, almost a year to the day since GeForce Experience's initial release, we launched GeForce Experience 1.8.2, adding several highly requested features to ShadowPlay Beta to further improve its capabilities. First and foremost, a new option in ShadowPlay’s Quality dropdown enables customization of the capture resolution, the capture frame rate, and the capture bit rate, giving users greater control over capture output. In particular, the frame rate option is of great benefit to YouTubers, enabling video to be captured at YouTube’s supported 30 frames per second, avoiding a 60-to-30 frame rate conversion during the publication process, which can impact video quality considerably.
ShadowPlay Beta’s new options are accessed via the Quality button in the ShadowPlay control panel.
Microphone input gained flexibility, too, with the addition of "push-to-talk", enabling users to toggle mics on and off as required. We've also made changes to the looked into the issue of ShadowPlay Beta’s write impact on solid state drives (SSDs).
Given that modern drives have built in protection to distribute writes, we do not expect ShadowPlay to meaningfully impact a SSD's lifetime in typical use cases. But for extra peace of mind, GeForce Experience 1.8.2 adds the option to change ShadowPlay’s temporary buffer file location. This will reduce usage on your C:\ drive if redirected to a secondary drive, and in turn may prevent the occasional stutter during gameplay if your C:\ struggles with simultaneous gaming and capture.
For a complete list of GeForce Experience 1.8.2 changes, make sure to check out the release notes.
The recent release of GeForce Experience 1.8.2 caps off a banner year for GeForce Experience, which has gone from strength to strength, launching with an indispensable one-click game configuration solution before rapidly expanding with modules for automatic driver updating, SHIELD game streaming, GPU LED control, game capture, and Twitch game streaming.
In the coming year we have big plans for GeForce Experience, beginning with desktop capture support for ShadowPlay. This much-requested addition will increase ShadowPlay’s game compatibility, enabling the recording of League of Legends from champion select to post-match results, for example, and will also enable alt-tabbing and recording of windowed games, such as HearthStone. For the latest news and updates on these exciting additions, stay tuned to GeForce.com.