Will Moonlight & Sunshine Work as a Gamestream Alternative?

A few weeks ago I posted a video about Nvidia sunsetting their “Gamestream” feature on the Nvidia Shield TV that allows for personal streaming of games from a PC. It worked exceptionally well especially as it would automatically adjust settings for supported games to best fit the display the Shield was connected to.

While the Shield TV was the only officially supported device for Gamestream an open source project called Moonlight brought the feature to many other devices including tablets and smartphones. Many were concerned that the demise of Gamestream would also spell the end of Moonlight.

But a companion project called Sunshine was launched to provide an open source replacement to the streaming server provided by Nvidia. In my latest video I took Sunshine out for a spin to see how it compares to the soon-to-be-dead Nvidia option.

The bottom line is that Sunshine delivers a high quality image with very little latency. But it lacks all of the creature comforts that made Nvidia Gamestream work as seamlessly as it did. Among the challenges I encountered were adding Xbox Gamepass games that I downloaded along with having to manually set the resolution for each game I was playing off of a 16:10 gaming laptop.

But I see a lot of potential here – not only for gaming but also for just general high performance desktop screen sharing. Sunshine is completely free and open source and can sit safely behind a firewall. Most of the other solutions that offer its level of performance are wrapped around a subscription service that allows outside access.

I am sure we’ll be revisiting it in the future so stay tuned!

Nvidia to Kill Off Gamestream

The Nvidia Shield TV is one of the longest supported Android devices ever made. The original 2015 Shield TV is still getting updates and support from Nvidia. But it will be losing its Gamestream feature in February of 2023.

Gamestream allows for streaming PC games to the Shield from a PC running with a Nvidia GPU. You can learn more about it in my latest video.

Gamestream is a free feature that works in conjunction with the GeForce Experience on Nvidia GPU equipped PCs. The GEforce experience scans hard drives for compatible games irrespective of where they were purchased from and automatically optimizes the game’s settings for streaming. The game reverts back to its prior local settings after the game quits.

The only officially supported Gamestream client is the Nvidia Shield TV and their now defunct handheld and tablet Shield devices. But the open source Moonlight app has for many years worked with Gamestream to allow this to work with just about any device. To their credit Nvidia did not do anything to restrict Moonlight from doing this even though the feature was designed to sell more Shield hardware.

The Moonlight devs predict that Nvidia will likely remove the Gamestream capability from the GeForce experience app once they remove the feature from Shield devices.

The Moonlight team is now putting some resources in to help the Sunshine project get its open source server up and running. Once that happens Moonlight won’t be dependent on Nvidia’s software any longer and non-Nvidia GPUs will also work.

For alternatives Nvidia suggests subscribing to their GeForce Now subscription streaming service. The service connects to a subscriber’s Steam, Epic and Ubisoft accounts and streams some (but not all) of their game library from Nvidia’s cloud data centers to the Shield and many other devices. Not every game works with GeForce Now as many publishers restrict streaming of their titles – even for purchased games.

For a free alternative Nvidia suggests installing the Steam Link app that allows for streaming games from a PC’s Steam library. But Steam Link has its limitations and requires additional work to load non-steam games from the Shield.

My gut on this is that Gamestream was not a heavily used feature and a bulk of those who were using it did so with the Moonlight app vs. the Shield TV. Hopefully progress on the Sunshine server will be swift over the next couple of months and we’ll have a better alternative than before. Stay tuned!