CES is the time of the year when tech companies come out with their latest wares and wow us over with visions of the future. This year is no different: 4K UHD TVs, drones, Steam Machines, and PlayStation Now have been winning hearts left and right. Amidst all this, NVIDIA announced the Tegra K1, a modest little mobile chip that, I believe, is the innovation and progression mobile gaming needs right now.
NVIDIA Did What?
NVIDIA has a lot going for itself these days. They may have pulled out of the console business, but they’re still driving PC gaming and are now focusing extensively on the mobile front. Their Android-powered SHIELD handheld is quite a nice device with support for streaming and high-end mobile games. The company is also working on G-Sync tech, which is very impressive in practical usage.
As it stands, though, their biggest progression so far has been the Tegra K1. Without going into too much detail, this is a mobile SoC that can finally drive console-quality gaming on mobiles and tablets. It’s being billed as offering the same level of performance of a PS3 or Xbox 360.
Think about that for a second. Let it sink in.
Mobile games so far have been cartoonish or had silly graphics. Even the most graphically intense games such as Infinity Blade or RAGE haven’t been anywhere near console-like. Your next Galaxy or Xperia phone will probably have the power to play the games that you’ve enjoyed in your living room for the past couple of years.
Mobile technology has improved to such a point where the difference to what you have at home and in your pocket is barely noticeable. I’ve always imagined having a device as powerful as a PS3 in my pocket, and now that can be a reality. Imagine having a phone that can run Unreal Engine 4 games in full HD—something that your gaming rig and your console at home can do.
Is The Market Ready?
Although NVIDIA has pushed the envelope when it comes to mobile gaming, the reality is that the industry isn’t there yet. Simply put, the games aren’t up to snuff. “It’s all about Angry Birds and Temple Run, isn’t it?” That’s what I was thinking.
The problem right now is that the app stores are filled with lazy and derivative games. Developers simply aren’t innovating. There are only a handful of games now that have graphics and gameplay that can rival consoles. Deus Ex, Republique, RAGE, and Infinity Blade come to mind. Even then, they’re dumbed down from their console brethren due to one thing: controllers.
Touch-screen gaming is still in its infancy, and the add-on controllers out there are simply not good enough. Phones and tablets are yet to embrace gaming due to the lack of proper controls, which honestly sucks. However, it appears that NVIDIA is aggressively chasing a future where mobile gaming is comfortable, intuitive, and most of all, immersive.
So, when a company like NVIDIA invests in mobile gaming tech so aggressively, it’s time we take notice. There are a lot of potential gamers out there who’re itching to get good games in the palm of their hands.
The fact that NVIDIA is aggressively pursuing the market leaves me hopeful for a better future. Having immense power at your fingertips is only the beginning. It will drive developers and manufacturers towards researching and developing intuitive controls, both touch and non-touch based.
What NVIDIA has done with the Tegra K1 is push the industry forward. It’s time to sit up and take notice. Mobile gaming may soon be the future and mark the death of gaming handhelds.