At CES, Nvidia shocked the world by announcing two game-related endeavours. I take a look and see if the company could in fact become the next big name in games.
No-one saw that coming.
The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, known affectionately as CES, brings some pleasant surprises and utter disappointments for the masses to share. Only recently has video game technology entered the foray there, and this past weekend dropped a bombshell: Nvidia is ramping up its game division.
The company is working hard hammering out details on a new cloud-based gaming platform, gathering international partners and the like. But the second announcement swiftly came: Nvidia is developing a dedicated games handheld code-named “Shield“. (Click that link to a Kotaku article with pictures and details.)
For other companies to enter the games discussion is not entirely surprising, considering a fading console generation and merging technologies. Nvidia, a company famous for its GPUs, is a relatively small name in the games market, never expressing interest beyond that point.
Competition for the cloud is heating up
Even though news surrounding cloud gaming services is not the prettiest (OnLive tanking and Sony acquired Gaikai), other companies staking their claim in the blossoming technology is an encouraging sign. Corporate backing means confidence in the tech, and if companies are to compete with existing console manufacturers, cloud usage is increasingly becoming a necessity as the gaming industry converges with technology.
Coming from the unlikeliest of sources, it is unclear whether Nvidia can succeed where others have failed. Improving on the tech, Nvidia says it can serve “up to 36 times from HD-quality game streams” than previous cloud services, while curtailing lag by 30 milliseconds (according to the GI.biz article linked above).
In the company’s favour is timing, as the Grid will become the only capable cloud service available. Whether Nvidia anticipated OnLive and Gaikai imploding is irrelevant, however its Grid platform is the newest example yet, tech grown corporately in-house instead of taken over.
Another handheld to combat Nintendo’s dominance
Whenever a company not known for its gaming voracity introduces a handheld, it is a mixed result. It brings memories of Panasonic’s Jungle, Nokia’s N-Gage and others that spectacularly failed to challenge Nintendo’s reign.
Nvidia is the latest to unveil one, to the surprise of the floor. (To avoid copyright, go to Kotaku for an in-depth glance into how the device looks and its interface.) Pictures show the handheld at just about the size of an Xbox 360 controller, and the Shield features a controller-style layout. Assumedly, that is to attract the console audience.
Running on Android, the Shield also features integration with PC, where Android-based games can play on the small screen or be connected to the TV. No other information was revealed.
The weak popularity of the Vita combined with the supposed downfall of video game sales is prime territory for more companies to enter the fold. With the eighth console generation to begin this year, it will reinvigorate interest in sales and Nvidia plans to be in the middle of that resurgence.
What it all means
Nvidia’s announcement caught the industry off-guard, but circumstantially, their investment makes sense. And this will begin a trend of tech companies entering the games market, seemingly the next plateau. It has been long speculated Apple eventually makes the jump into games, but Nvidia grabbed the opportunity.
If the cloud service and handheld are successful, there is no reason to underestimate the company’s ability to further its interests. A console or something else could be in the framework, but the question remains if four concurrent consoles is inundating the market. It is fun to think about, however.
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