C.E.S. 2013 began with a resounding thud heard not just around the gaming world, but technology, mobile, and console. Nvidia put the world on notice that it is going to put their technology, and gaming on a footing that will be noticed. Project Shield is an Android-based mobile games console that’s also capable of streaming PC games. The device is capable of playing both single, and multiplayer games, 4K Ultra-HD movies, and browse the web. The device described by CEO Jen-Hsun Huang can play games from the TegraZone and Google PLAY, or stream and play high-quality PC games delivered from Steam. Instantly offering up a true mobile console platform. Without being open source. Which in the youth of Android is a very good thing, because it’s structured. Is it time for Android gaming to compete with everyone?
The Good: Nvidia’s new Tegra 4 chipset is the guts behind Shield, and it trounces all Android devices on the market. The Ipad pales in comparison. That’s saying a mouthful, because in the mobile space the Ipad, is pretty well established with games that play well, and look great. Android on the other hand, although good, it’s a platform with a mishmash of gaming going on. Shield comes with 72 GPU cores, and a quad-core A15 processor, and a new software modem that allows instantaneous updates. Which means it has all the power to be efficient in offering up great graphics, sturdy connectivity, and productivity if need be. We are talking about firmware and new connectivity options accessibly on call when needed. The console style controller, offering bumpers, a D-pad and other triggers – plus a dedicated Shield button where you can switch from the native Android mode to the Nvidia gaming menu; are familiar to gamer’s. More so than playing just touch screen. You get a contextual feel for the games that are played on the 5-inch 1280×720 pixel screen. Cloud gaming which is all the rage is also on display with the Shield where you can stream from, as well as your home PC. You basically can stay knee deep in a game of League of Legends without missing a step. The mobile side can be expanded with storage space, and HDMI out put to television offers up a media solution to be at home distracting you from ever having to fire up that new Playstation 4 we all know is on the way. If you have a Steam library, then you will be able to take advantage of Steam’s Big Picture styling through the console controller.
The Sexy: With an unveiling on Sunday, Nvidia gave no price point. So at this point today many are interested in the device are skeptical on hard their pockets will be hit. Project Shield begs to the question who is the target audience for this mobile device? Is it the PC gamer who wants to play his titles on the go? Is it the console gamer who is interested in Android games? Is it the mobile user looking to play the best titles on the go, and still be productive? If it’s a combination of both then where’s is Nvidia going to be selling this device, and why does it not have a phone feature? People can only take but so many mobile devices with before they look like a walking Radio Shack. It’s not realistic. Does this mean Project Shield is unwarranted, or needed? No quite the opposite. In fact Nvidia has to take out a competitor, and the bad part that summons this paragraph up is. Which competitor are they killing? There is no clear answer irrespective of the technology on display by Nvidia.
The Salacious: Project Shield has too much going on in a butt ugly aesthetic. It’s so weird to see design for a mobile device come of so ancient, and archaic that I’m hoping this is only a prototype that works. Not a near final design choice. It’s riggidy looking, and don’t see most people who are now used to a clean, deliberate and fashionable mobile device flocking to Nvidia product. A part of me believes badly that Nvidia had Shield on hand for a while, but was pushed to desperately unveil something due to the independent push we are seeing from companies such as OUYA, and PlayJam with Gamestick. They couldn’t let the little guys get a jump on them in a real obvious market where the big boys are missing out on. There is nothing original about Project Shield, especially when it practically looks like an Xbox controller with a screen. There isn’t a clear distinction between what is out there, and the future that Nvidia sees. Obviously the jury is still out, and my salacious writings could be a jump of the gun. In the face of a new generation companies need to show that they are able to participate, rather sit on the side lines. In this respect Nvidia has tremendous potential on their hands with Project Shield. They just need to approach the market a bit more concretely than what we are seeing. There’s a gimmicky quality that you can’t escape that urges one to ask when will Sony, and Microsoft finally unveil something so a new gen can start already. We need one of them to get it right.
GamesBeat 2014 — VentureBeat’s sixth annual event on disruption in the video game market — is coming up on Sept 15-16 in San Francisco. Purchase your ticket now to save $200!