Everyone has a mobile game they enjoy whether they are killing barbarians in Clash of Clans or crushing candy in Candy Crush. There are multitudes of apps to provide entertainment and information on the mobile market too. Our computers provide gaming, applications, Netflix binges, pretty much anything you want. Video game consoles dominate a lot of technological entertainment themselves. What happens when you throw all of those things together? You get the NVIDIA Shield console that is going to hit our stores this May for $199.00. For those who may not know, NVIDIA is a company that specializes in the graphical side of computers and technology. Some people will instantly disregard this because of the failure that was OUYA (a console that attempted the same as the Shield), but let us take a look into what NVIDIA has to offer before judging.
The new Shield console does have some really good specs. The platform is an Android OS, and the new Tegra X1 processor and a 256 bit Maxwell GPU, so it has definitely got some power under the hood. There will be 3GB of RAM, which is three times the amount the OUYA handled. The console will be able to handle playback and capture of 4k resolution. 1080p with 60 fps is the output promised by this new contender in the market. You like Ports? The Shield has got ports, including a MicroSD slot, Micro USB 2.0 port, 2 USB Type-A 3.0 ports, Ethernet, HDMI, Android’s Bluetooth 4.1, dual band 801.11ac Wi-Fi, and the options of 7.1 and 5.1 surround sound over either HDMI or IR receiver. Not going to lie, these specs are pretty awesome for the console. They made me feel all warm inside.
NVIDIA has had the GRID Gaming Service for a while, and it has recieved a pretty good reception. Cloud gaming is really becoming popular in the gaming market; no one wants to wait to download their games or have to go out to get them. The GRID service allows seamless streaming of games with very low latency. This service has allowed players to play anywhere on their devices with no installations, complications, or downloads. This is, in my opinion, one of the big selling points of a system like this. If this were to be a system you buy where you have to download the games or go out and buy discs, gamers are not going to be interested. We already have these systems, and other than a lot of hardcore tech geeks, people will not be interested in this system.
All good things come at a cost, as most of us know. The GRID service will not be free, but will have a monthly fee attached to it. The GRID Basic package allows you to stream games at 720p at 30fps, and the Premium package will allow 1080p at 60fps. There have been no prices established for this service as of yet. I can understand a monthly fee for this service to cover costs, but I feel NVIDIA is giving their consumers the short end of the stick by splitting this service based on how well you want the games to look. Shame on you, NVIDIA.
Finally, the fun part of a console! The games! NVIDIA has announced that there will be 50 games on the GRID store when the console launches. Some notable games are DOOM 3, Star Wars: KOTOR, Half-Life, Witcher 3, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Pair this with the 1080p 60fps, or with a 4k television or monitor that you had to sell your legs to afford, and you have got some really pretty games coming your way. Games purchased give a Steam key for that game so consumers can play the games on other devices as well.
Is this going to be worth the price?
The big question everyone has is “is this worth my hard-earned money?” There are a lot of variables to consider when investing in a console itself; this becomes even more difficult when a new contender jumps into a new market. Everyone has computers that can play games, watch videos and movies, and surf the web. Consoles that are out today carry the newest games and applications everyone uses. The mobile market holds games and applications as well. The Shield is doing all of this itself, but most people already have their preferred medium for applications and games. This console is pretty rad, but where is the need for a product like this? As of now, the market is not really asking for a brand new type of console, at least not of this kind. Versatility is key, and while this console shows versatility, it is not showing this in new, exciting ways.
The GRID system is a marvelous piece of software. Streaming games is becoming a very popular ability; people love being able to instantly jump into a game when it comes out. This will of course come at a monthly price, not unlike the prices you pay to play PS4 or Xbox One games online. Console gamers are already paying monthly fees and are going to shy away from another system costing more money once they have invested in the console itself. With only around 50 games on it at launch, a lot of players are not going to see this being worth the money on launch.
Now what about the market? I have not seen it yet. With the above arguments in place, there are not many more people to attract. Some say, and I agree with these somewhat, that PC gamers that want a console of their own would invest in this technology, or the occasional gamers that do not want to invest too much into a system. While I can see these working out, it does not seem to be enough of a market to keep the Shield going. Most PC gamers detest consoles, or have one console or brand they enjoy. The occasional gamer would want to invest in handheld gaming or go into the mobile market. Investing into a console like this takes a good bit of money, especially to use the streaming features. The occasional gamer will not want to throw that much money at a company. The money is not there, NVIDIA.
Is this a worthy investment? I would not start counting the change in my couch just yet. Everything the system offers is available on other media. When you make a new product you need a selling point. While the GRID system seems like the likely selling point, a monthly payment plan is going to knock it out. Products also need to have their own ideas, their own ability that makes them stick out like a sore thumb. Taking existing ideas and putting them together is not going to sell this console; other consoles or PC’s are already doing this. I think consoles like this can have a bright future, once they find their calling. There are a few months before the release of this console, so we may see some tweaks to it before all is said and done, and I am very excited about this possibility. Until NVIDIA finds its market or develops something for this console that is out of this world, I see a potential OUYA second-coming...or going, if you will.