Nvidia introduces new gaming console

Portable Project Shield plays Android games, streams PC games

Update: According to the website, Shield will ship in Q2 of 2013 for the US and Canada, with a worldwide rollout to follow. Pricing and final specs will be announced closer to availability.

Nvidia just held their CES press conference, announcing a new gaming console, Project Shield, that may just change the gaming industry. Project Shield is a portable gaming console built around the new Tegra 4 chip (also just announced) running Android, with an unusual form factor. Essentially, Project Shield is a standard game controller (looking very much like a Xbox 360 or a PS3 controller) with a 5 inch HD screen attached. Project Shield not only runs Android games, it can also stream games from any Windows PC powered by an Nvidia GTX GPU, accessing titles on its Steam game library from anywhere in the home.

According to Nvidia, "Project Shield combines the advanced processing power of Nvidia Tegra 4, breakthrough game-speed Wi-Fi technology and stunning HD video and audio built into a console-grade controller." It can be used to play on its own integrated screen or on a big screen, and on the couch or on the go. Project Shield can instantly download Android games, including Android-optimized titles available on Nvidia's TegraZone game store. It can also be used as a wireless game receiver to a nearby PC equipped with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 GPU or higher.

"Project SHIELD was created by NVIDIA engineers who love to game and imagined a new way to play," said Jen-Hsun Huang, co-founder and chief executive officer at NVIDIA. "We were inspired by a vision that the rise of mobile and cloud technologies will free us from our boxes, letting us game anywhere, on any screen. We imagined a device that would do for games what the iPod and Kindle have done for music and books, letting us play in a cool new way. We hope other gamers love SHIELD as much as we do."

Huang showed Project Shield running games like Assassin's Creed III and Need For Speed: Most Wanted, streaming them from a nearby PC and routing the video through Project Shield to a 4K TV (that's a TV running at four times the resolution of a 1080p HDTV, or 3840 x 2160 resolution). The process showed no apparent lag, and the gaming proceeded smoothly during the demo. Huang noted that right now you'd need to connect an HDMI cable to tProject Shield and the TV, but 'soon' you would be able to stream video wirelessly from Project Shield to a properly equipped TV, similar to Apple's AirPlay technology.

Project Shield includes the new Tegra 4 chip, which Nvidia is billing as 'the world's fastest mobile processor.' The chip has a custom 72 core GeForce GPU and the first quad-core application of ARM's most advanced CPU core, the Cortex A-15. The integrated 5-inch, 1280x720 HD retinal multitouch display is 294 dpi. Nvidia also promises that its Tegra 4 with Direct Touch technology gives it touch responsiveness that is a more consistent, accurate and smooth-flowing touch input experience than a standard touch device.

Nvidia is not neglecting audio, saying that Project Shield "provides fidelity and dynamic range never before available on a portable device, through its custom, bass reflex, tuned port audio system -- with twice the low-frequency output of high-end laptops." Other features include 802.11n 2x2 MIMO game-speed Wi-Fi provides high-bandwidth, ultra-fast wireless for seamless game streaming, and the latest version of Android Jelly Bean.

Mark Rein, vice president and co-founder of Epic Games, said: "With Project Shield, Nvidia brings an uncompromising, high-performance console experience to mobile devices. Amazing games including Real Boxing and Hawken, which utilize the latest Unreal Engine technology, look fantastic on Project Shield. This is just the beginning, and we're truly excited to see what more Unreal Engine developers will do with so much horsepower in such a compact gaming device."

Bill Wagner, chief production officer at Meteor Entertainment, said: "Coming from the openness of a PC platform, we love how accessible Project Shield is, and the flexibility it gives gamers everywhere. Project Shield gives us the cutting-edge ability to bring a huge free-to-play PC game like Hawken to the handheld gaming audience."

Being able to play PC games anywhere in the house with a good-quality controller, and put those games on a TV screen when you like are both compelling features. It's worth noting, though, that many PC games are not controller-friendly, and really require a keyboard and a mouse to be played well. Nvidia may have solutions in mind for such games, but nothing was said about that during the press conference.

Nvidia made no mention of two of the most important features of Project Shield: the release date and the price. It's likely that Nvidia plans to release the device in the next quarter or two; a later release would give competitors plenty of time to come up with strategic responses, and no sensible company would want to make it easy for the competition.

Pricing is critical, of course, to the potential success of Project Shield. The marketplace is crowded with consoles, handheld consoles, smartphones and tablets all trying to appeal to gamers. A Project Shield at $100 might sell incredibly well; the same device at $500 would likely sit on shelves. Given the hardware capabilities outlined, Project Shield's price will probably lie somewhere between these two extremes. The exact price point, and the amount of marketing and developer support behind the device, will make a big difference to its ultimate fate in the marketplace.

While many questions remain, this announcement from a company like Nvidia should be cause for Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft to give some thought to their console strategies and how they might respond if Project Shield proves popular. Nvidia will have to put some serious resources into Project Shield if they expect to make headway against current and future consoles. One thing's for sure: The console wars of 2013 are already off to an interesting and unexpected start only a few days into the year. Get ready for a wild ride this year; whatever happens, it won't be boring.

More stories

Microsoft sees Xbox controller shortages

Platform holder says it has been impacted by "supply disruptions" as players in Europe report pads out of stock

By Brendan Sinclair

Xbox CFO expects supply chain issues to continue through 2022

Tim Stuart said that things "could remain rocky," including during the holiday season

By Marie Dealessandri

Latest comments (47)

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 9 years ago
Cat well and truly thrown amongst the pigeons.

This could be very highly disruptive for Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo.
But Nvidia will need to ramp up their consumer marketing and end user support.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee9 years ago
Wow, my premonitions are becoming more and more powerful ;P
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Caspar Field Consultant, Talk Management9 years ago
Really not sure what to say about this thing. On the one hand, I applaud Nvidia for trying. But is this really doing anything for gamers that the Vita and 3DS are not already offering? I'm not sure that the massmarket really understands the difference between 'closed' and 'open' platforms - perhaps hobbyists do. And we've seen devices with this kind of form factor before (Panasonic's ill-fated Jungle, for one), and they never seem to find a place to sit in the market. Ditto shoehorning Android into devices that it wasn't really designed to support. I'd also note that I've yet to meet many people outside of the industry who can get their head around connecting any mobile device to their TV. Lastly, purely in terms of my personal reaction, someone at Nvidia needs to hire a better industrial design team, because for me the design of Project Shield currently evokes memories of thirdparty controllers for the first Xbox - which isn't a great place to be.

Whatever else though, this is an interesting - and unexpected - kick-off to 2013's year of exciting developments in gaming hardware. I look forward to reading more about how Nvidia's new device goes down.
7Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Show all comments (47)
Elliott Lock Designer, The Creative Assembly9 years ago
I might have missed the point. It is Monday and I am tired. But why would anyone buy this?
9Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Peter Dwyer Games Designer/Developer 9 years ago
I'm standing by with "The last post" bugle mp3.

Unless this has some features I'm not seeing in the press release I'm stumped as to why this exists.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 9 years ago
it can also stream games from any Windows PC powered by an Nvidia GTX GPU, accessing titles on its Steam game library from anywhere in the home.
Interesting. This seems to imply a hook-up between Nvidia and Valve - auto-scanning a PC for any Steam installs and accessing them straight off would surely require some behind-scenes-tomfoolery.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee9 years ago
I'm most excited that Nvidia are entering this aspect of the games market (not to forget they're in it through other hardware/software products). The form factor of this device is the only really questionable point and time/more information will tell there. For all we know, things could change...
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Daniel Hughes Studying PhD Literary Modernism, Bangor University9 years ago
Fascinating, but that controller looks horrifically uncomfortable... Here's hoping it's just a prototype.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters9 years ago
I hate analogue sticks that are both crammed tightly together at the bottom like that. It's the reason I never play games on my PS3 unless I have no choice.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Rolf Moren Freelance Marketing Consultant 9 years ago
This might also be a move to establish the Tegra 4 platform in consumers minds as a very powerful graphics chip. If this is the case, phone manufacturers will be more likely to choose the Tegra 4 for their new lines of phones.
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
The more important underlying impact is, consoles have just undergone another upgrade/evolution, like a flashbang within a crowded space - it certainly bridges the 2nd monitor space between the xbox/wii U

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dr. Chee Ming Wong on 7th January 2013 10:55am

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Nick Parker Consultant 9 years ago
Latency issues prevent this from use outside of the home network for the time being. This is not such a bad problem as the form factor may challenge a cool experience in public. On a more serious note, doesn't the PS Vita offer the same streaming possibilities (Remote Play) so could this be a version for PC games which would be an interesting marriage of console controller and PC games? As with all new devices, the name of the game is the games so we need to see the catalogue availability but this is a logical step in providing a console experience to a cloud service (see Nvidia Grid announcement).

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nick Parker on 7th January 2013 11:41am

1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 9 years ago
On a more serious note, doesn't the PS Vita offer the same streaming possibilities (Remote Play)?
Yup. But that's just PS3... Look at the breadth and depth of PC gaming. Unfortunately, the lack of input devices means streaming something like Company of Heroes 2 on the Shield is just going to be... bad, I think. Still, the number of BPM-Ready games means there's a fairly decent catalogue of games already available, and presumably there'll be a nice Steam Sale to coincide with the Shield's release.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 7th January 2013 11:44am

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Daniel Garcia QA Tester, Crytek9 years ago
But if the screen can't be detached it'll be a fail. I like the concept but not if the controller is firmly attached to the screen.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
John Bye Lead Designer, Freejam9 years ago
On a more serious note, doesn't the PS Vita offer the same streaming possibilities (Remote Play)?
Last I heard it only worked for a handful of games and wasn't a particularly smooth experience. Is that still the case? I really hope Sony sort this out, as I'd be far more likely to buy a Vita if I could use it to play PS3 games while my wife's watching TV, in a similar way to how the Wii U Gamepad works.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Bye on 7th January 2013 12:24pm

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Thomas Dolby Project Manager / Lead Programmer, Ai Solve9 years ago
I'll join the list of doubters on this one. You can only play PC games in your own home where you have a high end PC already set up (likely with a nice big screen if you've splashed out on a high end GPU), why would you not just use your PC itself? I can't see many moments where someone would play on the sofa with a smaller screen instead.

When you are out and about, and are in a situation where you can bring out this bulky piece of equipment, how many games are there actually worth playing on such a device? I see this as a very niche product.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D9 years ago
I think it looks horrible, and I'm not even too sure on the concept. Look at how many PC games really need mouse support - how do you play those? And if you're a FPS fan, chances are you have those on regular consoles - you're not going to fork out to get them on PC just so you can stream them to this either.
8Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Kevin Hoque Programmer, The Creative Assembly9 years ago
Is this not just a marketing ploy to coincide with NVidia's announcement of the release of Tegra 4? I have a feeling that if they had a big customer like samsung or google to brag about re Tegra 4 then they might not have pushed this strange device out of their HQ...
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Dan Howdle Head of Content, Existent9 years ago
I don't understand whose desire this device intends to address. Any ideas anyone?

Still, I kind of want one. I'm just not sure why.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Echoing the 'why would I want this?' comments. I don't like the look of the controller... seems very chunky and awkward like the original nigh-unusable XBox pads. Sticking a tiny HD screen and PC-game session lengths on top of that sounds like a recipe for eye and wrist-strain, or possibly only if you have tiny delicate wrists like mine.

If I wanted to play PC games, surely I'd just play them on my PC, with a monitor big and well-placed enough that I'm not slouched squinting awkwardly at my hands, and if I wanted to play Android games... well, that one's more or less a rhetorical question actually.

Guess I'm not the target audience. But the question stands: who actually is?
3Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Sandy Lobban Founder, Noise Me Up9 years ago
I kinda like it. However, this is evidence of how obsolete the hardware game will be in future, and a demonstration of how easy it is to get anything you want manufactured in China (making assumptions). Steam will be the winner here. The device on which you play just wont matter. Any hardware manufacturer that tries to control the market will simply be left behind.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Sandy Lobban on 7th January 2013 3:04pm

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
David Spender Lead Programmer 9 years ago
If this ends up being able to stream ANY steam game from your PC to itself from OUTSIDE the home, this thing will be the most completely awesome device ever made.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters9 years ago
I don't think I'd want one even if it did that. I don't want to leave my PC switched on all day long just in case I fancy playing a game while I'm out, that's a massive waste of electricity. Maybe if there was a way for it to wake your PC up from sleep mode to use it.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Benjamin Crause Supervisor Central Support, Nintendo of Europe9 years ago
Interesting kick-off from NVIDIA. Reading it strikes me with two questions: Why would I want it? How heavy is this thing?
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
David Spender Lead Programmer 9 years ago
I do leave my PC on all day and all night. A habit I suppose. However, your home PC is just the beginning here.

Instead of people building home media servers, they will be building home gaming servers. Imagine being able to do a LAN party without bringing your PC - just the controller and a monitor. OnLive was a good idea but tying it to your existing Steam library is the stroke of genius that will give the Shield legs.

I can even see a market for hosted game servers where your Steam library lives and you leverage it with this device. What makes this technology so interesting is the many possibilities for it to be disruptive in key areas.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Nick Parker Consultant 9 years ago
With regard to its portability, it seems to be more a transportable device. The video here:
shows three internal rechargeable batteries plus the weight of the screen which may point to an on-the-lap experience rather than the in the hands "floating" console controller experience we are used to.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Jason Cunningham UI/VFX Artist, Space Ape Games9 years ago
This is DOA like Vita. Nobody outside of the industry cares or wants another mobile device that's not flat, rectangle and fits nice in your bag. I understand tech companies looking for the next killer gadget but the public are still loving their clean, uncluttered, touch screen devices. Its a great idea shame it looks like a prop from Blade Runner.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee9 years ago
Actually, I'd say Android and Google Play is the real winner here. Just shows how versatile, ubiquitous and easy to integrate the OS is becoming. Microsoft and Windows are becoming ever more cautious right now because Android will become the dominant OS and for more than phones (even though they are the top Internet device now).
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome Enterprises9 years ago
I want one even though I know it will be almost as disappointing and less used than my Vita.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Maarten De Jong Marketing / Research partner, Strategy Guide9 years ago
I'm with Thomas Dolby on this. The part of the market this is aimed at already has a perfectly capable PC in their homes for these sort of games. So I don't see the point streaming it to other places in the house a part from the toilet.

Google Play, ok. But Android developers will still create for the bulk of that market, the phones. So the Tegra zone game store will only get the spiced up versions of these games. For that matter I'd rather have a controller where I can dock my phone/ tablet to have the controller experience.

For the outside part. "We imagined a device that would do for games what the iPod and Kindle have done for music and books, letting us play in a cool new way." iPod and Kindle have cool designs, this doesn't. This is not for the public world.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Kevin Patterson musician 9 years ago
I am excited about the possibilities here, especially for the streaming of PC games.
To be able to sit in a different room than my PC and play a game from my Steam collection is pretty awesome.
It's interesting that some people have mentioned how awesome the Wii-u is that it can stream games to the handheld screen, but not seeing the use of being able to do it from your PC? This is a feature I have always wanted, having a PC acting as a game server, while any other PC or a handheld device in the house could act as a client
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Looks interesting and as noted price point will play big here. but maybe I'm old but if I have a Nvidia GTX GPU in the house, why wouldnt I simply be playing on that? I understand mobile gaming away from the house, I dont get mobile gaming IN the house. In mobile gaming you accept the limited screen, controllers, power etc because hey, your away from home. But if you are in the home, why limit yourself with mobile stuff, when the big, powerful, huge entertainment stuff is right there?
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
James Berg Games User Researcher 9 years ago
This just doesn't make sense to me. It's an in-home experience, which means I've already got a perfectly good PC to use. Having to connect an HDMI cable to use this on my TV is ridiculous, given most of those cables are a few feet long. This feels like a product that should exist in the future, when at least those two issues can be addressed. The form-factor.. yikes. A 5" screen playing Borderlands? Are you kidding me?
"We imagined a device that would do for games what the iPod and Kindle have done for music and books, letting us play in a cool new way."
Those both took off because they let us do things on the go, not from a different room in the house.
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Alex V EIC, NGN9 years ago
I agree with @James Berg, I just don't see who the heck would want to get this thing.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Saying that, the best gaming experience must still surely be infront of a giant TV plugged into a console for that immersive experience. I dont know if I want to be looking at my dinky small 2nd monitor
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
I think this is the "Android" gaming device that people have been waiting for (and will kill the other dedicated Android gaming devices). Although the screen does look small-ish - be a lot better if it was 7-8''.

As for the PC streaming side of the device, I don't really see any point - this wouldn't work for most PC games and since its tethered to the home... PC gamers will just use their uber-high speced PCs and huge monitors.

At this stage, its all about the price now. At least it has a big player behind it, and just further saturates the market. If they undercut the VITA, it may make Sony's life a little harder (this would easily outperform a VITA, not to mention 3DS).
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Dave Wolfe Game Developer, Cosmic Games9 years ago
It doesn't look like it would be a very comfortable controller, but if it turns out to have a nice feel I think I would buy it. You get a large, hi-res screen, powerful hardware, and proper game controls, and it can run Android games. Sounds good to me, especially if they have some control-mapping software like the Archos GamePad. The ability to run Steam games is a nice bonus, but I don't think I would use it very often.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd9 years ago
Haha I'm with Dan. I kind of want one, but the more I think about it, what the heck would I do with it? My gaming PC is already hooked up to my HDTV (with my game systems), and while I'm using a last gen video card, that video card is a 580 GT, which is much better than most of the 600 series (at least any of the 600 series I'd be willing to pay for right now).

Also, calling it now, but this thing is not cheaper than $500.

PS: Using the touchscreen on that thing looks incredibly painful.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nicholas Pantazis on 8th January 2013 12:19am

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Nick London Programmer, EA Mobile9 years ago
As long as it's affordable I'll definitely be getting one of these, because I prefer playing games on the PC with a controller and I don't always want to be sitting at my desk to do so. However I'm fully aware that I'm part of an incredibly niche market in that regard, I doubt there are many people that would bother with this at all.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Matt Jeffries Senior Producer, Telstra9 years ago
One word springs to mind: GIZMONDO....
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 9 years ago
Hey, I own a Gizmondo and thanks to a few emulators, it's more useful than this thing will ever be because I can use it anywhere and not be tied to being "connected" just to play a single player game. Nvidia should stick that pad in with their next PC as a freebie because other than collectors who buy these to hang onto, I can't see it doing well...

Then again, stranger things have happened. On the other hand, there are already too many of these devices out or on the way.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Richard Westmoreland Senior Game Designer, Codemasters Birmingham9 years ago
2013 is really starting to look like the year of the Android console. I'm wondering if Apple will convert the Apple TV into an iOS gaming console at some point.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters9 years ago
@James Berg
Having to connect an HDMI cable to use this on my TV is ridiculous, given most of those cables are a few feet long.
I already have an Amazon Basics 4.5m/15ft HDMI cable going from my PC on one side of the room into my TV so I can use Steam big picture mode. It wouldn't be difficult to unplug it and stick it in this device, I don't know why you'd consider it ridiculous for the sake of about 8. If the TV's out of use because someone else is watching it, this could come in handy, but it seems an awfully expensive thing to have just for backup.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
@Elliot: I'm tempted to buy it because now that I'm married, I'm permitted very little time to go and play on my PC. Playing games on the sofa is allowed, except usage of the TV is also restricted due to Dancing on Ice, Neighbours, Big Brother, X-Factor.........etc. So I'm stuck with handhelds, my phone, or a netbook. Streaming from my nice meaty machine upstairs is a tempting prospect.

The main issue I see though is that it's a console controller, rather than a mouse & keyboard, so most of what I want to do probably won't work very well anyway. :(
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Brian Smith Artist 9 years ago
The streaming pc bit is icing on the cake and won't be relevant to all. As an Android gaming device it's gonna be all dependent on price. Can they deliver this for 150 or less ? If they can't then they've got a problem. New tegra 4 apps will be thin on the ground and won't sell it for them. I don't see it as pointless in the marketplace but it won't change the game imo.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Caleb Hale Journalist 9 years ago
Hope this goes farther than the WikiPad, which was kind of a colossal but little-mentioned failure of 2012.

My main question is what is the longevity of this device? Tegra 4 is the bees knees of mobile gaming chips until Tegra 5 comes out next year, I'd assume. What happens to this Tegra 4 device in the switch? Nvidia can't expect people to respond well to a dedicated gaming handheld that refreshes itself every year with a better version like smartphones and tablets.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
NVidia went on record to say this would NOT be sold at a loss - their aim is purely to make profit off the device itself (fair enough, since they will make nothing off software for it).

So it still comes down to pricing, but its even more unlikely it can be priced aggressively. Probably going to cost more than a VITA at this stage.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply

Sign in to contribute

Need an account? Register now.