Nvidia Shield Gets Android 4.3, GameStream for PC Streaming
Nvidia has launched an update to its Shield handheld gaming system, giving the device Android 4.3 and adding several new features that expand the number of compatible games from hundreds to thousands.
This update also marks the official launch of the Shield's GameStream feature, which lets users stream games from their PC to the Shield over a local network.
The feature was available near launch in beta, but is now considered a released and fully supported part of the Shield. GameStream now supports games streamed at 720p at 60 frames per second, and works with over 50 games including Batman: Arkham Origins and Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. GameStream still requires a desktop computer with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 or higher graphics card; ATI users and gaming laptop owners can't use GameStream.
The Shield now features the Shield Gamepad Mapper, a programming interface that lets users map the physical gamepad controls of the Shield to touch-screen controls on certain games. It creates a customizable, invisible overlay on different titles that tell the game to treat certain actions, like moving the analog sticks or pressing buttons, to correspond to pressing certain areas of the touch screen. This means games with no gamepad support and only touch-screen controls, like Metal Slug 3, can now be played with the Shield's physical controls. Nvidia has already programmed over 300 game profiles for the Shield Gamepad Mapper, and will offer more with free weekly updates. Users can also create their own profiles and share them online.
Users who connect the Shield to their HDTVs can now play games through GameStream with the new Console Mode. It sets the Shield to output video at 1080p instead of its native resolution of 720p (though GameStream is still designed for 720p), and can work with paired Bluetooth gamepads for couch-bound gaming. Currently only one gamepad is certified by Nvidia to work with the Shield in Console Mode, the Nyko PlayPad Pro.
The update also adds a small but useful function to the shield: transferring apps to the microSD card. The update to 4.3 now lets users move .APK and .OBB files from the Shield's internal storage to a microSD card, expanding how many games can be installed on the system.
Nvidia is also announcing a holiday promotion with this update. Gamers who purchase an Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 up to GTX 760 video card will get free copies of Splinter Cell: Blacklist and Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, along with a $100 discount on an Nvidia Shield. Users who purchase a GTX 770 or Titan card will get the same, plus a copy of Batman: Arkham Origins.
The update is available today for free through the Nvidia Shield. The launched GameStream feature will require an additional download of the updated GeForce Experience software to their PC.