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Nvidia launches Grid cloud gaming: What is it and first look

Nvidia has officially launched its online game streaming service, Nvidia Grid, which allows users to play awesome games like Borderlands 2 and Batman Arkham City on their humble Nvidia Shield Tablet for free. And it’s coming to the UK this month.

We already love the Nvidia Shield Tablet, which for just £299 allows you to play power-hungry PC games anywhere in your home and even on your telly. Now this barganious tablet just got even better, as Nvidia has officially launched Grid, a cloud gaming service that will give Shield Tablet owners access to even more games, free of charge, from this month.

What is Nvidia Grid and cloud gaming?

With Nvidia Grid, the games themselves are actually running on remote servers, which then stream information straight to the tablet. So when you push a button on your Nvidia controller, that input is taken in by the Shield Tablet and then blasted across the interwebs to Nvidia’s servers, where it’s processed. What you see on your tablet at home is essentially just a streaming video of what is happening. In this way, you avoid sending ridiculous amounts of data back and forth from the servers. All of your save games and so on are also stored online, so you can swap between different devices and keep on playing.

Nvidia has integrated Grid directly into the existing Shield Hub app, so it’ll appear as just another tab, alongside your Android and PC games. Available games will simply appear in a menu and you can select which ones you wish to play, as if they were right there on your tablet.

Which games can I play on Nvidia Grid?

Twenty games will be launching with Nvidia Grid, including Borderlands 2, Darksiders 1 and 2, Street Fighter 4, Batman Arkham City and Saints Row the Third, plus classics like Psychonauts and Brutal Legend.

Borderlands 2 is just one of the games you can stream via Nvidia Grid to your Shield Tablet

Nvidia hopes to bring a lot more games to the service in the near future, but can’t discuss specific titles thanks to licensing laws and so on. But expect some more huge PC games soon, most likely titles that are already GameStream compatible (in other words, which you can already stream from your home PC to the tablet). We’re personally hoping that Far Cry 3, Bioshock Infinite and Xcom: Enemy Unknown all hit Nvidia Grid soon.

At the moment Nvidia Grid is single player only, but Nvidia is apparently working on expanding to multiplayer, with two or more controllers connected to a single device.

So is Nvidia Grid any good, and how does it perform compared to rivals like Playstation Now?

We saw a number of games in action in our brief time with the Grid service, all running off servers in Iceland, and the gameplay was so smooth and seamless that we could’ve sworn we were playing on a PC or console. We can’t talk much about our experience just yet, but this is something to get seriously excited about if you like gaming and you’ve got a decent home connection.

Jumping into an Nvidia Grid game is simple; they show up in a new tab in the Shield Hub app

Streaming games services aren’t a new thing, of course, but Nvidia’s Grid service compares favourably to the likes of Sony’s Playstation now – at least, according to our brief preview and Nvidia’s stats. In fact, Nvidia reckons Grid provides 12 times the performance (2448 GFlops compared with 192 GFlops), half the starting time and twice the frame rate (60 FPS compared with 30 FPS) when stacked up against Sony’s service.

Of course, Nvidia recommends a 10Mbps line for the Grid service to work well, so you’ll need a decent home setup to get the best from it.

When does Nvidia Grid hit the UK?

Good news if you can’t wait to try out Nvidia Grid: the preview service is launching in November, and will also launch fully in the US this month. Final roll-out will happen in Q1 in Western Europe (the servers will be located in Dublin and Germany) and Q2 for Asia Pacific.

More good news for gaming enthusiasts, as the preview period will be completely free, and there are no current plans to start charging. So Grid is just one more reason to grab yourself an awesome Nvidia Shield Tablet as soon as possible. Check out our full five-star review if you’re still on the fence.

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