Nvidia’s Android-based handheld console, the Shield, has two main functions: Playing Android games and streaming PC games. Its supporters say it does the latter admirably, so long as you have the right Nvidia hardware inside your PC.
But when it comes to the Android functionality, one complaint has dogged the $300 Shield since it launched in July, and that’s a dearth of compatible games. As my colleague Bonnie Cha wrote in her review of the product at launch, “Though you can play any game available in the Google Play Store, only about 100 titles work with the Shield’s controller.”
Today, Nvidia will announce that it has “mapped” hundreds of new games not originally designed for the Shield to the device’s controls. In other words, the company has made it possible for the console to play a greater variety of games without the involvement of those games’ developers.
A spokesman for Nvidia said that gamers will be able to design their own control schemes for games in the Google Play store and upload those controls to Nvidia, via a “Share” function in the Menu, or by emailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Those control profiles will then be evaluated and tested “for possible release as one of our cloud profiles,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesman declined to share Shield sales numbers.
Nvidia is also officially taking its PC streaming features — officially dubbed GameStream — out of beta today, and enabling the Shield to function as a TV-connected microconsole. That means that its owners can plug it into the TV and play games, or use media apps from the couch, using a wireless Bluetooth controller.
“Effectively, any Bluetooth controller should work,” Nvidia corporate marketing VP Ujesh Desai said. However, the company is putting its stamp on the controllers that offer the least latency, starting with the $40 Nyko PlayPad Pro.
Today’s new features will be delivered to current Shield owners via an over-the-air online update.