Nvidia made two major announcements at the Game Developers Conference, relating to its gaming devices. A console version of the Nvidia Shieldhas been announced, providing similar streaming gameplay as the original handheld and the Shield Tablet, while the Grid cloud-based gaming service will be fully launched in the coming months, including a connection to the Steam online store and subscriptions.
The Nvidia Shield is a console measuring just an inch thick, packing an Nvidia Tegra X1 processor with a 256-core Maxwell GPU, 3GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage. Capable of displaying Ultra HD video with 7.1 surround sound and capturing video at up to 60fps, the console also offers Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0 connections, two USB ports, a microSD card slot, and an IR receiver compatible with the Logitech Harmony remote.
Running Android TV and being Google Cast-ready, the console is able to play Android games locally, though it will also be able to stream games from a PC on the same network using Nvidia GameStream, or from the Grid cloud service. There will also include a game controller and a Bluetooth "Shield Remote" with one-touch voice search, bringing it in line with other compact set-top boxes for media streaming, but the latter device will be available separately to the console.
Nvidia is aiming to ship the Shield console in May for $200.
Grid will be rolling out fully at the same time as the console. Two tiers of subscription will be available to users, with a basic tier providing approximately 50 games and 720p-resolution streams, while a premium version will include 1080p video at 60fps. This Netflix-of-gaming approach is similar to the model used by OnLive, though the option of paying to increase the video quality is a unique selling point.
While the selection of games in the subscription will rotate regularly, Grid will also offer game sales. Games purchased can be streamed immediately from Grid to the console, with customers also receiving a Steam key so they can download and install it onto their own computer for in-home streaming.