If you think that renting a high-end gaming computer for $50 a month is a good deal, then the Shadow Ghost is something you should consider. France-based Shadow is launching its Ghost cloud gaming device today so that gamers can play high-end computer games on TVs, laptops, or even mobile devices.
Formerly known as Blade, the Shadow company has built the Ghost so that a game runs in its data centers on high-end Nvidia graphics hardware and the video images are sent to your computer via broadband so that they can be displayed on just about any device.
The Ghost costs $140 and looks like a small computer. But it’s really more like an accessory that enables you to attach gaming peripherals (mouse, keyboard, or controller) so you can play cloud games on a HDMI 2.0-connected screen. It can support 4K resolution at 60 hertz or 1080p at up to 144 hertz.
While the hardware isn’t anything special, the meat of the value is in the cloud gaming service. The Shadow service turns any internet-connected device with a screen into a fully upgraded gaming computer.
This means that you don’t have to buy a $1,000 or $2,000 gaming computer every couple of years. Instead, you can pay $35 a month to Shadow (at an annual rate) or $50 a month on a month-to-month basis. That monthly payment ensures that you’ll always have access to top-of-the-line computer hardware, like an Nvidia GeForce RTX graphics card. That makes gaming more accessible to the masses.
“From the beginning, Shadow has always been about adding to the gaming experience, and the purpose of Shadow Ghost is to take that mission to the next level,” said Shadow co-founder Asher Kagan, in a statement. “Paired with the Shadow platform, the Ghost gives owners the ultimate gaming experience on their big-screen TVs.”
Shadow recently formed strategic partnerships with Charter Communications and Ubisoft’s Nadeo Studios. In addition the company teamed up with award-winning esports group Team Envy as it continues to expand its foothold in the market. The company also just opened a new data center in Chicago expanding its footprint further across the Midwest and extending coverage to 37 continental states.
Users can access Shadow on any desktop PC, laptop, Mac, tablet, smartphone, or smart TV with the dedicated Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android apps.
Hands-on with the Shadow Ghost
I tested a Shadow Ghost in my home, connecting it to WiFi and the screen of my aging Acer Predator gaming laptop. Yes, I could have attached it to something more impressive, but this is what I had at hand.
I played Apex Legends at 1080p resolution. First, I had to create an account, and that was a bit of a chore. I used a one-month free card from Shadow and created a login and password. Then I logged in, and it didn’t recognize my password. I went to the “forgot my password” link to reset the password, and it sent an email to my Gmail account.
I used that to create a new password, and it said the link had expired. I didn’t really know what it was saying at first because the landing page was in French. Not English. Eventually I straightened this out and after several more tries, and then I was able to log in. But that was a bad experience just trying to get the service to work.
When I logged in, I saw a Windows 10 screen. It didn’t use all of my screen’s real estate, for some reason. But it gave me a fairly sizable window. Then I fired up Apex Legends. It loaded fast enough. I played a lot of rounds of the popular new battle royale game from Electronic Arts’ Respawn division. I was going to play until I got some kills, just to prove that the latency wasn’t bad for a shooter game.
But I had an unusually long dry spell without getting a kill. The video embedded in the post shows a round where at least I downed another player. Once in a while, you may notice a little bit of a glitch. I saw slow movement in only one of the dozen or so rounds that I played. I found that to be acceptable, given that I wasn’t playing on a wired broadband connection.
We’ve come a long way with cloud gaming since OnLive, which raised hundreds of millions of dollars but shut down in 2015.
I am hopeful that the Shadow Ghost will raise the bar for the newest generation of cloud gaming. But it’s worth remembering that Shadow will have some serious competition from the likes of Google and likely other companies, such as Microsoft and Amazon. We’ll see how this second round of the cloud gaming wars turns out.