Nvidia’s GeForce Now free tier will make you watch ads before gaming

All good things must come to an end, in the words of dads and starship captains everywhere. And Nvidia’s GeForce Now game streaming service is no exception. No, the system isn’t shutting down — in fact it’s been going from strength to strength lately, adding both in-demand new titles like Nightingale and older Activision-Blizzard titles like Diablo IV and Overwatch. What’s ending is GeForce Now’s run as one of the only services that doesn’t saddle its least spendy users with intrusive advertising every chance it gets.

Starting soon, users on the free tier of GeForce Now will begin seeing video advertisements in the queue as they wait for an open slot on an Nvidia remote server. The ads will be capped at two minutes, and , it seems like they won’t actually interrupt gameplay. So if you’re lucky enough to get into a server slot right away, you might not see any advertising at all. Of course on the free tier, you have a maximum of one hour of playtime before you’re kicked off in favor of paying customers and have to queue for a server again.

As a web writer, I must begrudgingly admit that the vast majority of the money I’ve taken home in the last decade-plus has come from ads at one point or another. The internet — or at least the part of it that’s free to access — runs on advertising, and it seems like this is an inescapable truism to at least some degree. That said, recently the never-ending encroachment of advertising into every facet of the daily experience of being a technology user seems particularly grating. Especially when it barges into services that obviously work just fine without the extra revenue.

Amazon injects ads into Prime Video, even though you’re already paying for it, and charges you for the luxury of banishing them. Microsoft blatantly sprinkles advertising for its other products and services all over Windows 11, something you either paid for on its own or as a built-in cost for your PC. Google is demolishing its excellent audio Podcasts app, in favor of YouTube, a service that’s absolutely infested with ads and won’t even let you listen to audio in the background without a horrendously expensive upgrade. Ads are relentlessly invading every single space, and it’s getting more and more expensive to get rid of them.

A little pre-roll advertising, especially in a spot where you weren’t doing anything else anyway, is probably the least offensive example of what’s becoming known as “.” This is where, bit by bit, platforms and services get worse and worse as they’re tweaked to maximize revenue. But the creeping invasion of ads, expressing their manifest destiny into more and more places that were previously unspoiled, is especially infuriating when they come from companies that obviously aren’t starving for revenue. Amazon, Microsoft, and Google all fit into that category.

Nvidia has hopped right from the crest of the cryptocurrency boom onto the wave of speculative AI investing to . It’s literally the third-most valuable company on the planet, making enough profit to make a nineteenth-century robber baron jealous. Maybe it was naive to expect a free tier of a game streaming service to remain free of ads forever. But this extra push to get people onto the paid tiers of GeForce Now, which start at $10 a month and recently got a price hike in many markets, kind of feels like Scrooge McDuck taking all the pennies in the tray at the 7-Eleven and leaving none.

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