Nvidia Gamestream is a service that, alongside the appropriate hardware, allows you to stream games in 4K from a beefy PC to your living room television. It launched in 2013 and worked alongside the Nvidia Shield TV device, a piece of kit that I no longer use but have fond memories of, and was such a good, fuss-free and stable implementation of local streaming that many preferred it to the more popular alternatives offered by platforms like Steam.
It was too good, too pure for this world. Nvidia has announced that (opens in new tab), as far as it is concerned, GameStream has reached the end of its life and "in mid-February, a planned update to the Nvidia Games app will begin rolling out to Shield owners. With this update, the GameStream feature will no longer be available in app."
Nvidia adds that Shield owners can in future use Steam Link to stream games to their TVs, and that the GeForce Now service enables cloud streaming to the Shield TV (which is not like-for-like).
This has gone down with people who use Shield TV like a cup of cold sick, mainly because GameStream is among the core functionalities of the Shield hardware: it was certainly one of the features I used a lot. Announcing the end of support for a live service is one thing but this is different, and I can well believe that it was a big selling point for many who bought the Shield.
"WTF Nvidia?" writes a Shield user on the NVIDIA subreddit (opens in new tab). "That's my primary mode of gaming with my Shield and 3080. Saying I'm disappointed is a massive understatement, as this is the primary reason for owning both a Shield and Nvidia card."
"Why would anyone actually buy a Shield TV if not for the function they are removing," runs another reaction. "This is pretty annoying, it's the only reason I bought the bloody thing, I have a feeling they can't remove the functionality, they just stop future support, as it's one of things they use to advertise it."
That, unfortunately, does not appear to be the case. In fact Nvidia's announcement seems to try and get out ahead of this by suggesting the available alternatives. But it is undeniable that GameStream was a selling point for the Shield and some people will have bought it in the not-unreasonable expectation that it would just 'work' for as long as needed.
What about just dodging the February update? Nice idea but, per Nvidia again: "Gamestream may continue to work for a time, but will no longer be supported and eventually will stop working. All other services supported by Nvidia Games, including GeForce NOW, will require an app update to continue working."
So there you go: GameStream will be removed and, if you try to keep your Shield working as-is, the other functionalities will be hobbled and stop working until you update to the post-GameStream future.
It's hard not to sympathise with the customer reaction to this one. It's not just a question of the Shield hardware itself either: using these services requires buying into the wider Nvidia ecosystem, so there will be people out there for whom GameStream mattered when choosing their GPU. Not to mention the knock-on effect for other highly popular services like Moonlight (opens in new tab), which requires GameStream to function.
I've contacted Nvidia for further comment and will update with any response.