French start-up Blade is bringing its cloud gaming service to the US. From today, gamers in California (more on that in a bit) can pre-order a subscription to the Shadow service ahead of its February 15 US launch date (it’s already live in several overseas countries including Belgium, France, Switzerland and Luxembourg).
Shadow, launched in 2016, is different from other cloud gaming services in that it provides customers with their own dedicated, high-end virtual machine rather than having gamers share resources. As such, each Shadow subscriber will have access to a 2.1GHz Xeon E5-2620 V4 processor, 12GB of RAM, 256GB of storage and an Nvidia Quadro P5000 graphics card – specs that Blade says will allow for 4K gaming at 60 frames per second or 144 frames at 1080p quality.
Blade will also upgrade its systems periodically to keep up with the times and swap out any hardware that fails. Asher Kagan, president and co-founder at Blade, said the idea is that the user will never need to care about the hardware anymore.
Content can be streamed to a desktop PC, Mac, smartphone or tablet. As for the games, well, you’ll have to supply those yourself (think of this more as a hardware leasing program, not an on-demand gaming service with unfettered access to any title you can imagine). The box will come with a copy of Windows 10, for example, and you can load your existing Steam library onto it.
As long as you have throughput of at least 15Mbps, you can expect “zero latency,” Blade says. This is possible only because Blade puts its dedicated servers in relatively close proximity to its customers (hence why the service is only available to California residents initially). As Blade expands its hubs across the US (a full continental US rollout is expected by the summer), gamers in other regions will have the opportunity to subscribe.
Speaking of, Blade’s pricing may stun some prospective gamers. Expect to pay $34.95 per month with a one-year commitment, $39.95 monthly when signing a three-month term or $49.95 on a month-to-month basis. That’s far more than other cloud gaming services have charged in the past but then again, those services aren’t around any longer for a reason.
Furthermore, when you consider how much a respectable gaming PC capable of 4K60 will set you back, the price isn’t really as bad as it seems. One year of service would come out to around $420. Over a three-year span, you’re looking at roughly $1,260 – about what you’d expect to pay for a solid gaming PC. Plus, with Blade, you’ll never have to worry about upgrades or unexpected hardware failures.
Blade expects to service 100,000 customers by the end of 2018. That’s a steep goal in a market where several others have floundered although if Blade can truly deliver an experience that’s comparable to playing on a local machine, it has a real shot at success.
Interested parties can learn more and sign up for service over on Blade’s website.