While there were hundreds of noteworthy exhibitions at the International CES event this year, one of them really caught my eye as a PC gamer – NVIDIA GRID. Essentially NVIDIA GRID is a cloud gaming venture backed by the graphics giant NVIDIA, allowing access to major game titles that are entirely processed and streamed from the cloud.
What does this mean? Gamers can play PC game titles without specific PC or Console hardware outside of a standard controller or input of some kind (e.g. gamepad, mouse/keyboard). You can even use a smart TV which has almost no processing power and offers a potentially enormous screen to play traditional PC games on.
So how was it actually playing on GRID? Astonishingly the performance I enjoyed playing on the smart TV was equivalent to playing on my solid gaming computer at home (with the perk of being displayed on a 60in HD TV!). One of the NVIDIA engineers explained to me the multiplayer instance of Borderlands 2 I was playing on a Smart TV was only being streamed on an 8Mb connection, which is not that big of a connection compared to modern broadband services. I love the promise of this technology, but latency and broadband availability will be its hurdles to overcome. That said, the experience I had playing on GRID at CES was excellent and I hope my experience wasn’t the result of smoke and mirrors.
The big rule is: No matter what device you have – make sure you have a quality broadband connection if you want to play via GRID!
So why do I, as a PC gamer who already owns a nice gaming rig, care about GRID? I enjoy playing multiplayer PC games with friends about twice as much as playing with the randomly paired jokers that make up the PC gaming community. Unfortunately for me, most of my gaming buddies only have traditional consoles such as the PS3 or even just smart TVs, not gaming rigs.
This leaves me out in the dark majority of the time with most of the PC exclusive games I tend to enjoy. However, If NVIDIA can garner the support it needs from service providers and game makers to push this technology from the show floor to production, I may never have to play with a randomly paired 13 year old with a mouth like a sailor again. Plus, I might be able to play RTS PC games right from my living room couch like I’ve always dreamed about!