Coffee Talk #557: Is Nvidia Project Shield a Game Changer?
Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, Intelligentsia’s Sulwesi Toarco Jaya Peaberry, Pau Gasol’s broken face, or Dwight Howard’s torn labrum, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.
Two days ago at CES 2013, Nvidia announced a new gaming device called Project Shield. It’s a bold initiative that combines elements of console, PC, and portable gaming. As a verbal entertainer and a tech nerd, I love it, simply because it’s a conversation starter. That said, I’m not yet convinced that Project Shield is a game-changer. I’ve thought about the device several times over the last couple of days and it’s still more “interesting” than “must have” for me. Naturally, I want to know what you think about Nvidia’s gambit. Let’s go over the pros and cons.
On the plus side, Nvidia’s graphics processors and mobile processors are some of the best in the business. From the tech-and-specs standpoint, Project Shield should deliver. It also draws from two diverse gaming libraries: Android Market and Steam. Content shouldn’t be an issue with this device.
Original content, on the other hand, is something Nvidia will have to be more aggressive with. The company has great relationships with Android and PC developers, getting exclusive features or versions of games. I believe the company will have to do more than that to make Project Shield thrive. It will need full games — not just features or optimized versions — exclusive to the platform. While some people believe that exclusive no longer matter, I think they’re in important part of defining a platform, which is especially important for a newcomer.
While being able to stream PC games to a mobile device is very cool, you need a GeForce GTX 600 series GPU (or better, when the time comes) to do so. That makes playing high-quality games expensive. Consoles have thrived because of their simplicity and price. You buy a relatively cheap box, pop a disc in, and go. With Project Shield you have the device itself, a relatively expensive PC, and the potential trouble of trying to connect the two. It’s a more expensive and complicated proposition for many “mainstream” gamers.
Then there’s the form factor. It’s portable, but not really. Although mobile gaming systems have been getting larger (like Leon from Airplane!), it’s still easy enough to slip a Nintendo 3DS or PlayStation Vita into your back pocket or jacket pocket. Project Shield looks like an Xbox 360 controller with a screen attached to it. I’m pretty sure that won’t fit into most pockets. Since the shape isn’t uniform, it won’t be as bag friendly as traditional portables. With mobile phones becoming more powerful every few months and the vast improvement in mobile games, I only bring my portable consoles with me for long airplane flights. I don’t see myself toting around Project Shield much, simply due to its form factor.
There are surely many tech enthusiasts that will pick up Project Shield because it’s bold, different, and powerful. I’m not yet convinced that it will sell big or change the business (much). I have too many concerns about content, complexity, and form factor. How do you feel about Project Shield? Kindly take today’s poll and leave your thoughts on Nvidia’s upcoming portable in the comments section (please!).