Blade, a French startup, thinks that it has solved the challenges of cloud-based game streaming services with its offering of Shadow. Blade has partnered up with Intel, AMD, Microsoft and even its competitor Nvidia, to bring a cloud-based game streaming solution designed to completely replace the need of owning a personal high-end gaming PC. Shadow will provide access to a Windows 10 PC via a dedicated cloud connection on a monthly, quarterly or annual subscription package. At CES 2018, the company debuted this service in the US for the first time.
Blade’s Shadow streaming service was first launched in France back in 2016 and has since gained about 5000 users over there. Now the service is coming to the US and began limited pre-orders on January 4th, 2018. For now, the service is only launching in California and will be releasing on February 15. The service is said to expand to the rest of the US sometime in summer of 2018. An exact release date for the Shadow Box has not been disclosed, but it is expected to be sometime later in 2018.
Blade Shadow: Features, specifications
Blade’s offering is an attempt to simplify the PC experience and open it up for people who can’t or don’t want to invest in the cost and space needed for a beefy gaming rig. So instead of the upfront cost of thousands of dollars, one could choose one of the subscription packages for Shadow and stream a high-end gaming PC experience to a low powered laptop, smartphone or smart TV. This service will work on any device including a desktop PC, Mac, laptop, tablet or smartphone with dedicated Windows, macOS and Android apps.
According to Asher Kagen, president and co-founder of Blade, Shadow will offer a configuration that would be a cross between a gaming pc and a server, with the equivalent of a Core i7 processor at its centre. He even said that the hardware would be periodically upgraded depending on availability of new CPUs and GPUs. The current Shadow specification list consists of an 8-core, 16-thread, 2.1GHz Xeon processor, 12GB of DDR4 RAM, 256GB of storage and a GPU equivalent to Nvidia’s GTX 1080 with 16GB of video memory. As long as a user has a network throughput above 15Mbps, this setup is promised to offer zero latency and a streaming resolution of 1080p at 144 frames per second, or 4K resolution at 60 frames per second.
On the other hand, there is another option users have to enjoy this service without a PC or smartphone. Blade offers the Shadow Box, for those who just want to run a virtual pc directly on a regular screen. The Shadow Box will be a small, dedicated client hardware. It comes with an AMD APU, two USB 3.0 ports, two DisplayPort 1.3 ports, a headphone and a microphone jack. Anything connected to this ‘Box’ will be a peripheral that will show up on the virtual pc. The Shadow Box comes at a full price of $140, or you can choose to rent it out for $10 per month.
Blade does not offer pre-installed games on its platform. That is something users would have to purchase themselves. Since Shadow is a complete system without the hardware physically present, this would be the same as downloading games from Steam or other online stores. All of this would naturally bring up security concerns, and Blade has addressed this issue. Blade says that its terms of service prevent the company from accessing any data that users put on Shadow PCs. This is excluding hosting, storing and other user data needed in the normal course of operating the platform. The terms also prohibit customers from using Shadow for sending spam and mining cryptocurrency.
Blade Shadow: Pricing
Once subscribed, Shadows will offer a dedicated virtual PC. For this, they will have to pay $35 per month (approximately Rs. 2,232) for an annual subscription, $40 (approximately Rs. 2,551) for a three-month subscription, or $50 (approximately Rs. 3,189) for a monthly subscription package.