Nvidia finally launches GeForce Now cloud gaming for Shield set-top console

30 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

NVIDIA Shield gains cloud gaming service.

On Wednesday, the company unveiled a service called GeForce Now that promises to stream games in 4K for $7.99 per month. The Shield is Nvidia’s Android TV gaming powerhouse, and Grid isi ts software soul—a streaming service that lets you play a selection of titles over the internet.Nvidia launched its Shield Android TV set-top box back in May, but one of the prime benefits is coming on Thursday with the launch of Nvidia’s GeForce Now cloud gaming service.

That includes its $200 Android-based Shield set-top box, which already lets users stream video and some games to their TV through the company’s existing Nvidia Grid cloud-gaming service. GeForce Now re-brands Grid — tying it, in name, to the company’s line of high-performance graphics processors — and offers streaming games and games for purchase for $8 per month. The service launches Thursday with 50 games, including major recent titles such as “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt” and “Mad Max.” Down the line, the company plans to add new games every week, aiming to get new releases on demand on a timeline similar to how the movie industry spaces out its in-theater and on-demand releases.

The NVIDIA Shield console ($199.99 or $299.99 for the 500GB model; remote sold separately, $49.99) hit stores back in late May to coincide with the Grid game system going operational. Some GeForce Now games will also be bundled with a key that lets players buy games for download on their own PCs, company officials said on a pre-release briefing call last week. Nvidia really seems to be looking at Netflix as a model for its pricing and beyond. “Our target market is similar to Netflix,” Phil Eisler, Nvidia’s general manager of cloud gaming, said on the call, noting that GeForce Now will have games for kids and adults rather than going strictly for a hard-core gaming audience, which may always opt to pick up a console instead. Among the titles: Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham Origins, Dead Rising 2, Alan Wake, Brutal Legend, The Walking Dead: Season 1, Borderlands and several LEGO games including LEGO Lord of the Rings.

That puts it, in some ways, in competition with tech giants such as Apple and Amazon for control of the living room; both companies have made games a focus for their upcoming set-top boxes. Register now for our GamesBeat 2015 event, Oct. 12-Oct.13, where we’ll explore strategies in the new world of gaming. “Apple TV has come out, but if you are an Android user, Shield is the best device for you,” said Ali Kani, general manager for Shield at Nvidia, in an interview with GamesBeat. “We like Apple TV because it confirms our theory that the smart TV category is exciting.” We all expected Nvidia to launch GeForce Now with the Shield itself, but the company did more testing than expected. Streaming games has always been one of those great ideas that doesn’t quite work the way you want it to, but it’s increasingly looking like something real. The Shield outdoes the processing power of the new Apple TV since it has the new Tegra X1 mobile processor — with a 256-core Nvidia graphics processing unit (GPU) and a 64-bit central processing unit (CPU). Other Shield console entertainment options include streaming Ultra HD content from Netflix, built-in Google Chromecast functionality, voice control and viewing live over-the-air local TV broadcasts.

And it is offering its games at the high standard of 1080p with 60 frames per second — though it will adjust that quality based on the speed of your Internet connection. GeForce Now (formerly known as GeForce Grid) has more than 50 popular PC games available, including titles from the Batman, Lego, Witcher, and Resident Evil series. Kani said the rebranded GeForce Now is the culmination of five years of work, which included adding video encoding to GPUs and developing cloud infrastructure. That work, as well as better bandwidth, means you could play a game like Batman: Arkham Knight, which takes 213 minutes to download, in a matter of seconds or minutes via the cloud.

Shield is now available in Google Fiber Spaces (which provides bandwidth at 1 gigabit per second) such as Provo, Utah; Kansas City, Missouri; and Austin, Texas. Meanwhile, Shield (the 16-gigabyte version) and Shield Pro (with a 500 gigabyte hard drive) are available on Oct. 1 in the U.K., France, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden.

It provides movie-watching at 23.976 fps playback, and hardware acceleration support for video codec formats such as VC-1 (including M2TS and ASF/WMV container support), MPEG-2, and WMV9. Eisler said that average broadband speeds are rapidly improving, particularly now that Nvidia has access to a lot of cloud-gaming data center locations around the world, said Eisler. “The question is not if, but when cloud gaming will take off,” Eisler said. “I feel like we have the GPU requirements and the bandwidth to put cloud gaming onto an exponential growth curve.”

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