This could be a very good year to be a video game player. Aside from the release of a third Xbox and fourth PlayStation, we’re also seeing the release of entirely new gaming devices, including the Ouya and Razr Edge.
Now, prominent graphics card maker Nvidia is preparing to release the Nvidia Shield, a handheld device that features a traditional console gamepad and a five-inch high-definition display.
Quite frankly, the Shield looks like someone took an iPad Mini and strapped it to an Xbox controller. The device, which will reportedly retail for $349 when it’s released in June, features a 1,280 x 720 (720p) resolution display. It runs on Nvidia’s own Tegra 4 processor, meaning it uses four CPU cores. That’s enough power to allow the Shield to play some seriously good-looking high-definition games.
It’s also enough power to allow gamers to connect the Shield to a much larger display, like a big-screen television.
Shield will use Google’s Android operating system and games will be available for download through the Google Play store. Gamers can also access titles through Steam and Nvidia’s own TegraZone. Right now, TegraZone offers about 76 different titles, from Max Payne to Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
Of course, to justify spending $349 (roughly the same cost of the upcoming Xbox and PlayStation 4), gamers will want access to new titles — not the decade-old Vice City. Nvidia says gamers can expect to see several new titles this year, including Double Fine’s Broken Age and Costume Quest. Former Pixar employees are also working on Flyhunter, while Dedalord Games is developing Skiing Fred.
Unfortunately, those titles won’t be enough to make the Shield a success. If Shield is to survive, Nvidia will need some AAA titles from major game companies.