Nvidia’s Project Shield: developers react

Project Shield

What do developers think of Project Shield, the new gaming handheld Nvidia claims will “do for games what the iPod and Kindle have done for music and books”? While the device runs on Android, this is quite different to most portable devices that run on Google’s mobile OS. It’s a high-end system, powered by Nvidia’s new Tegra 4 processor, able to stream Steam games from a PC, and push 4k video to HDTVs over HDMI. Yet it also runs the hundreds of thousands of apps and games available on the Google Play store. We spoke to several developers with experience of mobile app development and big-budget console and PC games to see what they thought of Shield, and their responses might be politely described as mixed.

Ben Murch is co-founder of Rodeo Games, developer of the Hunters series and currently at work on Warhammer Quest:

“To be honest, we couldn’t be less excited about Project Shield. I’d be the most surprised person in the world if it actually takes off in any way. The cynical side of my brain says this is yet another attempt from yet another company – unfortunately one that we do genuinely love – trying to grab a piece of the already massively fragmented Android pie.

“As far as using the extra horsepower to make super high-end Android games… well that’s kinda crazy. Presumably, nothing else would be able to run your game if you tailored it specifically for the high-end Shield. Talk about all your eggs in one basket!”

Stephen Cakebread designed and developed Geometry Wars at Bizarre Creations and was also one-third of Tiny Invaders studio Hogrocket:

“The advantage over Ouya or GameStick is that it has Nvidia’s backing. I think we’ll see third party applications which will replicate the Steam streaming on the other devices soon enough.

“Porting a touch mobile game to a device with a controller is probably going to suck. However if the Ouya, GameStick and Shield together manage to ship enough units then it will make sense for developers to target the platform as a whole, which should result in much higher quality games.

Project Shield

“Developers will always make use of any power available, so more is always better – however in a handheld that comes at the expense of battery life. If Nvidia is expecting the Steam streaming to play a big part in how people use this device, then perhaps they are expecting people to primarily play with it within range of a plug socket, so maybe this will be less of an issue.

“I think we’re still waiting for the device that nails the console experience on a handheld. Once someone works out what that is I don’t think sales will be a problem.”

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