Nvidia aims to ignite controller-pad mobile gaming

Much like how Nokia became the largest manufacturer of digital cameras in 2008, when the mobile handset became the primary camera, Google’s Android platform is well on its way to becoming one of the most popular gaming platforms in the world.

There are 189.3 million Android devices forecast to be sold in 2013 alone, according to Informa Telecoms and Media, far surpassing the 153.6 million units of the PlayStation 2 that Sony sold throughout the console’s lifetime.

To bolster this success, chipmaker Nvidia has announced Project Shield, a dedicated portable gaming device, running on the Android platform, wifi-enabled and LTE ready. Project Shield plays both Android and PC titles; giving access to any game on Google Play and streaming games from the Steam library any PC that is powered by Nvidia GeForce GTX GPUs.(Steam owner Valve itself is developing a console, or ‘PC in a box’, in order to drive usage by guaranteeing compatibility for games).

The device has ergonomic controller integrated into it, which Nvidia says offers users more control and precision. It runs on the NVIDIA Tegra 4 CPU. The device can also access Android apps such as Hulu, Netflix and Slacker Radio and has speakers integrated into the device.

“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 CEO 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.”

David Whitby, country manager for the UK and Ireland at mobile games developer Gameloft, said that while touchscreen will continue to be the most widely used interface for mobile gaming, controller-enabled games do represent a compelling opportunity.

“Ultimately from our point of view, the biggest market is always going to be touchscreen devices, because the market for people prepared to invest in a specific device just to play games is very small compared to the global market of people who own mobile gaming-capable devices,” he explained.

However, he admitted that controller-enabled mobile games is an area that is important to the company. The firm has worked with a company to create the Duo Gamer controller, which is a Gameloft-branded Bluetooth game controller and is also working with Moga which makes similar products for Android devices.

“We definitely recognise that one of the biggest limitations of mobile gaming is the interface,” said Whitby. “Usually the biggest criticism people have about what we do and the console experience is that the gaming experience is more streamlined because you have actual buttons. You’ve got that controller sitting in the palm of your hands. We’re working on this at present and it is something we’ll likely be keen to keep working on with the new Nvidia device.”

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