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French startup Blade first brought its Shadow cloud gaming service to U.S. shores earlier this year with a soft launch in California. Shadow promised to give gamers the equivalent of a $2,000 gaming PC to stream on anything that has a screen. Now, the company is rolling out its streaming service to additional states in the west coast and the east coast thanks to a new data center.
In addition to California, the total number of states will increase to 18. The states include Oregon, West Virginia, Virginia, North and South Carolina, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Ohio, Maine, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Rhode Island, Nevada, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Delaware.
The primary hook of Shadow is the ability to play on nearly any screen, including smartphones. However, controlling a full Windows PC isn't the easiest thing to do on a small screen. To that end, Blade also unveiled an iOS and Android app called Shadow Beyond. This allows players to simply skip all of the extraneous Windows stuff and open directly into their games.
We've previously written about Microsoft's goal to eventually go all in on streaming as the future of Xbox. In fact, recent reporting has revealed that Microsoft could be releasing two Xbox consoles, one full powered and another less powerful one for streaming.
Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot recently stated that he believes gaming will eventually be less hardware dependent. "With time, I think streaming will become more accessible to many players and make it not necessary to have big hardware at home. There will be one more console generation, and then after that, we will be streaming, all of us," he said in an interview with Variety.
The cloud gaming market is already starting to fill up with Nvidia's GeForce Now and Sony's PlayStation Now being the more well-known implementations. Other companies such as Liquid Sky are more similar to Blade in that they advertise the use of a full PC instead of simply game streaming.
The primary obstacle to reliable game streaming is obviously network speed and latency. Broadband penetration is still not good enough for a large swatch of the world to take advantage of streaming games. Even in the United States, rural dwelling consumers do not always have the luxury of fixed, high speed broadband connections. Additionally, cloud gaming providers have to ensure low latency for twitch games like first-person shooters and fighting games.
The upside is that with many players entering the cloud gaming market, the odds of somebody figuring out the speed/latency issue increases dramatically. However, even if someone cracks that code, consumers could still face other issues beyond their control such as data caps set by their ISP. Furthermore, the lack of net neutrality could see ISPs charging Microsoft, Nvidia, Blade, and others extra for cloud game streaming with those costs possibly being pushed down to the customers.
For now, Blade seems confident that it can stand apart from the pack. The company is planning its expansion by August 9th to the aforementioned 18 states with a wider release to the rest of the country by October.