Alongside today’s launch of the GeForce GTX 950, NVIDIA is also announcing a new streaming mode for GeForce Experience, the company’s multi-feature game streaming and optimization tool. The new feature, dubbed GameStream Co-op, is a case where the feature does exactly what it says on the tin, allowing for players to engage in co-op gaming in supported games via GeForce Experience game streaming.

The feature, designed to allow another player to remotely join into a game, is from a technical level a fairly straightforward extension of NVIDIA’s existing GameStream technology. Only rather than taking over primary control of a game via GameStream, the remote client is an additional controller or mirrored controller – a second, remote player.  The ultimate idea here is that this makes games that have local co-op but lack network co-op playable over the internet, complete with integrated voice chat to better replicate the couch co-op experience, or it allows co-op with only a single copy of the game instead of copies on each end.

What is especially interesting though is that for the first time in a GameStream feature, the remote endpoint does not need to be an NVIDIA Shield device. Rather, via a new plugin for Google’s Chrome browser, the endpoint can be any PC fast enough to decode the H.264 video stream and send back commands (officially NV specs the minimum as a Core i3-2100). Given the limited proliferation of Shield devices this makes GameStream co-op much more widely usable, as it would now be accessible from most Windows 7+ PCs.

From a usability standpoint GameStream Co-Op is going to incur the same kinds of latency penalties as straight-up GameStream, which is to say that it will depend on the game and internet connection. NVIDIA likes to promote GameStream as low-latency – and strictly speaking this is true for the NVENC video encoder – but NVIDIA doesn’t control the rest of the network. Some games will handle this better than others, and playing with a friend in the same city will usually be a better experience than in the next country over.

As for the host side, GameStream co-op will work with most devices that currently support GameStream. The one exception for now is that GameStream Co-Op is limited to desktops only, with laptop support coming at a future date (much like GameStream initially).  NVIDIA is also recommending a relatively high 7Mbps upload for the feature, in-line with previous GameStream internet requirements.

Moving on, while GameStream Co-Op is being announced today alongside the GTX 950 launch, unlike the GTX 950 it is not available today. A beta will begin in September, with the feature coming out of beta at a later date, similar to previous NVIDIA GeForce Experience feature betas.

Finally, the fact that NVIDIA now allows a degree of GameStream support to non-Shield devices is an interesting development. The company has until now kept GameStream and Shield tied close together, declining requests to allow game streaming to other PCs. Though the announcement of GameStream co-op doesn’t truly enable the full GameStream experience to any remote PC, all the pieces are now in place if and when NVIDIA decides to enable it.

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  • Rock1m1 - Thursday, August 20, 2015 - link

    This sounds exciting. I hope in the future we get 1080/60 with unlimited time per session.
  • nathanddrews - Thursday, August 20, 2015 - link

    The virtualized co-op is cool. I don't understand the need for 1:1 broadcasting though, when you can already use Steam to broadcast to as many people as you want.

    I think, more than anything, this will bring light to a larger problem with PC gaming: the sheer lack of local co-op games. Steam, in particular, needs to allow for multiple profiles to log in at the same time to play co-op on the same machine. It's disappointing that many games that have local co-op on consoles come to PC with that feature stripped away (or buried and unusable). I can understand devs/publishers wanting to get money for each person playing the game - that's fine - but make it easier to do co-op and split-screen on PC. With 4K TVs, each player could get their own 1080p corner. That's something I would jump on immediately.
  • Rock1m1 - Thursday, August 20, 2015 - link

    I agreed, there is no technological reason coop is not pushed out of the way of PC Games.
  • Chapbass - Thursday, August 20, 2015 - link

    ABSOLUTELY agree with this.
  • shadowofthesun - Thursday, August 20, 2015 - link

    1:1 streaming is definitely niche, but I think it has its uses- Twitch, YouTube, Steam, et al. all have significant delays built in from both technical and non-technical reasons (namely, to discourage cheating). I've had cases where a friend just wants to watch me play a game for a bit and talk, and Steam is miserable for that- anything I say over voice chat happens a minute later from their perspective.
  • nathanddrews - Thursday, August 20, 2015 - link

    Yeah, I suppose anything that gets us closer to real-time streaming is worthwhile if only for the technological achievement.

    Some friends and I were feeling nostalgic and played some Wrestlemania 2000 (N64) followed by Halo (Xbox) in the living room and I'll tell you that it was more fun than just about anything else I've played online for the past decade.

    The wife and I played a lot of co-op Borderlands on the 360, but for BL2 we bought the Steam version and the lack of split-screen really deprives it of some magic. While we already have our gaming rigs side by side in the office, it's just not the same. I guess we could utilize the picture-in-picture mode of the TV and connect both PCs to it... Or Gearbox could just patch it...

    P.S. I have seen people run multiple instances of BL2 on the same PC in windowed mode using two different Steam profiles, but the setup was, for lack of a better word, retarded.
  • edzieba - Thursday, August 20, 2015 - link

    Hopefully there will be a way to glom Gamestream co-op support onto other applications in the same way you can with regular Gamestream. Console emulation with 'local' co-op over a network would be pretty nice to have.
  • SpartyOn - Thursday, August 20, 2015 - link

    I second the need for more PC local/couch co-op games. The wife and I love to play games together sitting on the couch with wireless Xbox controllers for games that support both features. We're not interested in gaming across rooms with separate computers, and we also won't ever own another console because we enjoy the high-fidelity and tweaking options of the PC (last console was Gamecube, I think...).

    More co-op (especially split-screen for shooters and race sims!) would be great and allow us to spend time with each other, instead of retiring to separate corners of the house like twin Quasimodos.

    Really we've only been able to enjoy the Trine and Lego games for couch co-op, with Street Fighter IV to a lesser degree because my wife isn't really into fighting sims.

    More and more people have a PC in their living room and/or a streaming capable box so co-op on PC needs to happen. I used to cart my mini ITX back and forth to the TV vs. my 3D gaming monitor, but then I got a Shield Portable which streamed games to the TV from the same rig and I could leave it in one place. Unfortunately, the number of wires with the USB OTG dongle w/ Ethernet, Xbox hub, power cord, etc. became too unsightly and cumbersome to hookup when I wanted to go portable with the Shield, not to mention an eyesight in my entertainment center, so I recently built a low powered streaming box using the new Intel Braswell Pentium N3700 (wanted hardware H.265 decode for some future proofing) which is in a mini ITX case VESA mounted to the back of my TV with all the wires tucked away and unseen.

    Been streaming games and co-op to it fine all week. Bring me more couch co-op!
  • gamefryse - Friday, August 21, 2015 - link

    I'm glad I'm not the only one to notice the lack of local co-op PC games. Playing online just isn't the same, and I hope stuff like this means more couch co-op in the future.
  • nikon133 - Sunday, August 23, 2015 - link

    Sounds a lot like SharePlay on PS4. I'm not being negative here, good ideas should be embraced. Gaming needs more co-op in general, too many lone wolf and competitive games around. When I was younger, we used to get together and play Yahtzee or even good old cards, in addition to playing video games together. We also used to play a lot of single player games together, simply by running through game's single player campaign by swapping seat in front of the screen - one is playing, the other one is providing moral support and giving ideas/suggestions where to go, how to tackle boss fight etc.

    We are getting more and more busy these days, but on the other hand, with technology progress, video and audio chats can at least to some degree substitute to actually sharing game-room with mate(s). All we need now is more co-ops, or new ways to play together games that are not necessarily designed as co-ops... and these share-play features can come in handy.

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