As part of NVIDIA’s suite of GDC 2015 announcements, the company has announced that their GRID game streaming service is getting a promotion from beta to a commercial service.

First introduced back in 2013 as a beta project for NVIDIA’s SHIELD Portable to demonstrate the streaming capabilities of the combined Kepler + Tegra ecosystem, the GRID gaming service has been slowly built up over the years. Later in 2013 NVIDIA added console mode, extended the service to the SHIELD Tablet, and most recently the company has greatly expanded the number of games and server locations the still-in-beta service offered. All signs as of late have pointed to NVIDIA seeking to bring the service out of beta – particularly the June 30th expiration date – and tonight’s announcement reflects exactly that.

The commercial version of the service will launch in May alongside the SHIELD Console, and while maintaining the overall design and feel of the current beta service, NVIDIA will be making changes to accommodate its switch from a purely free service. First and foremost the service will see 2 tiers introduced: basic and premium. Both tiers come with free games, similar to the current GRID beta, with the premium tier getting additional (and likely more recent) games. NVIDIA has not yet announced a price for either tier, however NVIDIA has been careful to call both tiers “subscription” tiers, and with subscription running orthogonal to free, there’s reason to believe that both will be paid services.

As for the newest and greatest games (that NVIDIA presumably can’t get service-wide licenses to), NVIDIA will also offer a game purchasing service to allow users to buy individual games. This functionality does not exist in the current GRID beta, but of the few preview screens we’ve seen it looks like pricing will be in-line with retail PC game purchases.

Meanwhile for non-SHIELD owners hoping to take advantage of GRID, it’s looking like you will be out of luck. NVIDIA is currently only talking about GRID for SHIELD device owners, which is consistent with their use over the last few years of value add features to drive hardware sales. GRID exists to sell SHIELD consoles, not for NVIDIA to get into the business of running a game streaming service.

In fact the launch of a commercial version of the GRID service is something of a change in direction for the company. NVIDIA’s original plans for GRID involved partnering with game streaming start-up Gaikai, a plan that came to a halt when Sony bought Gaikai and used them to build Playstation Now. Since then we haven’t seen any other serious contenders in the PC game streaming space, and NVIDIA for their part has opted to go it alone.

Meanwhile from a technical perspective, the GRID service has not substantially changed since beta. Now that NVIDIA has expanded beyond San Jose, the actual server locations are being backed via Amazon’s AWS, which is already a large customer of NVIDIA GPUs. NVIDIA’s target to beat on lag is 150ms, a number the company believes is fast enough to be reasonably playable, but also because that’s the number the company has previously stated they believe they need to be at to be competitive with consoles – especially games that only update at 30Hz.


NVIDIA On GRID Latency in 2012

Wrapping things up, NVIIDA tells us that when the commercial service launches in May, the company will offer 50+ games, with that expanding to 100 by the end of the year. In the meantime we will be keeping our eyes peeled to see what the subscription price of the service will be and how many server sites will part of the commercial launch.

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  • SpartyOn - Wednesday, March 04, 2015 - link

    I own an original Shield Portable and love it. Even if it didn't come with all the other features that are included, it's the by far the best handheld emulator device on the market. I spend more time playing my old PS1, Genesis, and SNES games than anything else. Having a built-in controller device while sitting back on a lounger in the pool doing some retro gaming is boss.

    I have streamed games via the GRID service over wireless and I did not notice any discernible impact on my gameplay other than in twitchy racing games (45MB down/5MB up connection). For me, it simply worked great, and that was even on shitty single band wireless-N (I've since upgraded to dual AC). Having the console plugged into Ethernet should improve on that experience in terms of lag.

    Local GameStream from the PC has had its ups and downs. It worked great for a long time and I used it to stream games like Deus Ex: HR, Skyrim, Kingdoms of Amalur, a few LEGO games, and The Witcher 2 without any issues from soon after it's launch to about October 2014. Some of the recent Geforce Experience PC updates (Nov. 2014-early Feb. 2015) broke a lot of functionality for me though and I was having connection issues, dropped signals, jerky streams, and just overall less performance. However, they seem to be working out the bugs that were introduced with subsequent releases and I have seen my performance improve to I think about where it was since the last release.

    What disappoints me about this console is that, for the most part, my Shield Portable does all of these things already. If I want to stream GRID games or PC games via GameStream to my TV, I can hook it up via HDMI and use an XBOX wireless controller. Want to play Android games on the TV? Same thing. Bluetooth voice control accessories? Check. This new console just has more performance, which is to be expected for a larger and newly released device.

    I was really hoping they were going to release an update to the handheld with the X1 and market it as a portable home console. Increase the screen size to at least 6" from the current 5", slap a high resolution screen in it, throw in the X1 with active cooling just like the original shield, put 3-4GB of RAM in and call it a day. All you would need to do to get all of the functionality of a home console would be to plug it in via HDMI if you just wanted to leave it on the shelf, but the portability factor would be there if you wanted it. The Shield Portable and Tablet were already niche products for a niche audience and instead of perfecting them, they've released this device that honestly, I don't know who it's for.

    I mean, the X1 can probably handle PS2 games now as soon as someone releases a Android emulator. Wouldn't that be sweet to have in a handheld, plus all the benefits they are touting with the X1?
    Reply
  • Yojimbo - Wednesday, March 04, 2015 - link

    Can you play a game on the tv with 4 controllers using the shield portable? Regardless, this is cheaper than a tablet or the portable, and looks better sitting in the living room. It also functions as a smart TV. Hopefully they don't abandon the other Shield devices though. It would be cool if Android gaming does take off, then they could potentially throw higher-powered hardware at it. Right now it would be a huge risk to go beyond the limits of what other market segments (automotive and mobile) can support. Reply
  • SpartyOn - Thursday, March 05, 2015 - link

    Actually, with the recent software release, I DO think you can use up to four wireless Xbox 360 controllers in multiplayer games. I personally haven't tried it as I don't own any local co-op multiplayer games other than Trine 1&2 and some of the LEGO games. Reply
  • savagemike - Wednesday, March 04, 2015 - link

    It will be interesting to see what the prices are. I am guessing the basic tier will be in line with what Microsoft and Sony offer. I'm guessing the premium tier will be around $10/month. They mentioned Netflix again and again, also Spotify. I bet they try to stay close to that pricing model.
    The one thing which I'm fuzzy on this morning. Can I buy games through grid if I have no subscription to the service?
    The other side of this puzzle is the download Nvidia game store which will apparently have a lot of older titles. The pricing on those currently is around $10. That seems quite attractive to me actually as I'm not a big gamer and did not have a console or PC gaming set up during that generation. I am betting I can do a lot of casual gaming on short money with those older games.
    Finally, while Sony and MS consoles cost more you can often buy them in bundles. If you want the games they come with then that puts the pricing for the console a lot closer to Shield. I wonder if Nvidia or Google will do any kind of bundles or add ins.
    I'm also curious if Google gets any cut, and how much, of Nvidia game business here.
    Reply
  • TallestJon96 - Wednesday, March 04, 2015 - link

    Latency and price will determine the success of this service. With pre-rendered frames, wireless controllers, and crappy TV response time, consoles take a while to respond. Hopefully this can provide a similar experience for not too much money. Reply
  • Guspaz - Wednesday, March 04, 2015 - link

    I'd love to see this service integrated with Steam. You'd be able to "install" games from GRID in your Steam list (in reality it'd just add it to your "installed" list without doing any actual installing), and you could see them in your games list and launch them like you would any other Steam game.

    Then again, I'm a big proponent of having all of my stuff in one place, and I really hate having games spread out over half a dozen different content distribution services.
    Reply
  • SpartyOn - Thursday, March 05, 2015 - link

    Why not just purchase the game from Steam in the first place and then stream it to the console via GameStream? Reply
  • maincpa77 - Friday, May 12, 2017 - link

    On the other hand, if the basic tier was 720p60 and get dragon ball z dokkan battle hack on http://dragonballzdokkanbattle-hack.com Reply

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