From a gaming perspective, the Consumer Electronics Show is usually pretty boring. There are some new controllers, usually fairly goofy, and that’s pretty much it. There are no game developers there and generally console manufacturers save the big news for E3 or the Tokyo Game Show.
So NVidia saw an opportunity and announced both a new streaming system and a portable game console, Project Shield.
Honestly, we’ve seen Project Shield before, although the Tegra 4 having a quad-core A15 CPU and 72 core custom GPU under the hood is… compelling. But it’s still basically an Android phone with an Xbox controller bolted onto it: It’ll play Android games or stream PC games if you have a high-end rig with the right NVidia chips and it’ll cost more, likely a lot more, than those crappy controllers with snap-in frames for your phone.
But those will be the only distinguishing features, at least according to what we know so far.
Similarly, the Grid is just OnLive with a bigger name behind it and less risk: NVidia will be licensing the gear and software, but not administering anything themselves.
But the two of them put together? Now that’s different.
It’s not any sort of huge secret that game companies are looking closely at Linux and Android. The Ouya was a huge hit on Kickstarter, “two-inch” consoles like the Game Stick are becoming popular, Valve is actively developing for Linux, and Blizzard will apparently stop screwing around and release the World of Warcraft client for Linux they’ve been sitting on sometime this year, likely with an Android version arriving soon after.
But if this streaming service and handheld actually pair, something NVidia hasn’t admitted yet… That’s a pretty compelling item, right there. The ability to stream games anywhere with a strong WiFi connection is something that many dream of but nobody has, so far, managed to pull off.
Can NVidia do it? Good question. But if nothing else, it’s a pretty clear announcement. NVidia is saying with these products “Nobody is going to be buying our high-end components soon”. Moreover, they’ve believed this for a while: They admitted in a Q&A session that Grid has been in development for five years. When even the guys making the graphics cards think PC gaming is going to dump the PC, it’s time to listen.