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Who needs Nvidia's Project Shield?

by Zaid Kriel (Zaid)  Posted Thursday, February 07, 2013 11:52:00 AM

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So up top is a new video for Project Shield, graphics chipmaker Nvidia's unexpected challenge to the mighty Nintendo's dominance of the handheld gaming market. It's a pretty impressive demonstration. Who would have ever thought that you could run a game like Borderlands 2 with nearly full graphical settings on a portable device and get such smooth results. Certainly not me.

Except that Project Shield isn't actually doing that. Rather the game is being run on a Falcon Northwest Tiki gaming rig with a Nvidia GTX card and then streaming that content to the handheld. So all the work is actually being done by the PC and Project Shield is basically just a wireless controller with a screen attached. I'm sure there is more than that going on from a technical perspective, but in practice, yeah... wireless controller with a screen attached, people. Looking at it that way, I'm suddenly a lot less impressed.
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With that in mind, I really have to wonder, who is this thing for? If I wanted to play Borderlands 2 with PC quality graphics and console style controls, why wouldn't I just play it on my PC and plug in an Xbox 360 controller. While there's no pricing available for Project Shield yet, I guarantee it won't be cheaper than an Xbox controller.

And if I really wanted a portable gaming system, why would I get one that's reliant on a PC to actually run the games? I'll still be trapped in my house. Yes, I can move from room to room, which technically fits the dictionary definition of portable, I suppose, but I'm still stuck at my house. No playing Borderlands 2 with max settings on the bus for me, that's for sure.

Ahh, but Project Shield runs on Android, I hear you say. So that means it will have access to all the games available on Google Play. But I have my phone and/or tablet for that, devices I typically carry around with me anyway. Plus, Project Shield's garish form factor doesn't exactly scream convenience of movement.

Seriously now,  am I the only one that these thoughts are occurring to? I highly doubt it. Project Shield has the look and smell to me of a solution desperately in search of problem. The features it is putting on the table aren't addressing concerns that anyone is having or innovating new concepts that will change the way we play our games.

 So again, I have to ask: Who is this for?

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Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not MWEB Connect (Pty) Ltd



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