Want to experience the best gaming has to offer? To have games automatically detect your system specs and set everything to ultra? Want to turn Anti-Aliasing up to 16x without fear of tanking your framerate? Blade Shadow lets you do that – without the normal $2,500 entry fee.
Blade Shadow is an innovative new attempt to breach the high-cost highly exclusive sphere of top-tier PC gaming, and offer top-of-the-line experiences in a more consumer-friendly package. It’s essentially a pre-packaged supercomputer, complete with massive amounts of processing power and high-end graphics cards, available for use on any device for the monthly subscription fee of $35. It’s an idea that has existed since 2016, but limitations with its hardware have kept it from really taking off. After this year’s CES tech showcase, the company unveiled a couple of updates for their machine and service. Rewards have been mixed, but the company seems to be getting closer and closer to making PC supercomputers available for all.
The Blade Shadow box works through a cloud-powered connection to a device of the user’s choosing. First, the user connects their laptop, smartphone or tablet to the Blade Shadow. The box will then work to process inputs from the connected device and use its high specs to translate those inputs into games, making even the cheapest of laptops a super-tier gaming computer. In theory, anyway.
In practice, the system’s Cloud Connectivity brings up significant issues, as noted by one user on Cnet. He said the system performed perfectly well during his Street Fighter III tests, responding in time with his inputs as he pulled off dazzling combos and threw consecutive fireballs, but quickly fell apart when it came to other games. This latency is a big issue, because online lag in multiplayer gaming is already so much of an issue that adding a secondary source of input delay on top of the bit caused by connecting to a game’s central servers may spell doom for something like Blade Shadow – something looking to replace most high-end gaming computers.
The disgruntled user went on to detail many of the issues he had while using the service, and shared impressions on what types of games the system appears to struggle the most with:
“My audio stopped working, which required me to momentarily “reset” the streaming service. (That would happen many more times during my tests.) I discovered that some 2D games, such as the four-player couch favorite SpeedRunners, and 2D assets, including the splash screens and cutscenes in Rise of the Tomb Raider and Wolfenstein II, were too choppy to enjoy.Sometimes my cursor randomly disappeared until I reset the stream. And sometimes, my gamepad would randomly stop being detected by Shadow, even though my physical computer saw it perfectly well. “
With all these difficulties, it’s clear that this subscription service still has a ways to go before it truly launches itself out into the hands of worldwide consumers and becomes a deal that’s impossible to pass up. The business model in itself is very smart and will effectively fill many niche markets, such as people with seasonal vacations who can pay $70 to $105 to enjoy two to three months of top-tier gaming. But the application of the system is extremely difficult. Streaming that much data at the zero-delay basis that online gaming requires is a monumental task, and the Blade Shadow will have to bridge some hefty boundaries before it can justify its place in the home of PC gamers everywhere.