French startup Blade is aiming to deliver a high-end gaming experience to anyone willing to pay a set amount per month with Shadow.
Basically, it's a cloud-based streaming service that lets you "borrow" a top-of-the-line rig on your machine.
What Is Shadow?
As for how Shadow works, Blade will provide you with a Windows 10 PC, but it won't be with you. Instead, you'll access it online as a virtual machine through any device with a screen, including but not limited to a desktop or laptop running on Windows or Linux, Mac, tablets running on Android or iOS, and even a smart TV.
In other words, the PC is running somewhere else, but you get to use it wherever you are as long as you have a compatible device and an internet connection.
"A revolution is coming to the PC that will replace it with nothing — no hardware, no upkeep. Shadow is the only computer you will ever need again. Shadow allows you to break free from hardware with the power and security you expect from a high-end PC," Asher Kagan, Blade's president and cofounder, said.
The service will hold you back by $34.95 a month under a one-year lock-in period, $39.95 a month under a three-month lock-in period, or $49.95 a month. That boils down to around $420, $480, or $600 a year respectively.
Now what you're getting is a setup that consists of a "high-end" Nvidia graphics card that can run 1080p at 144 fps or 4K at 60 fps, eight threads on an Intel Xeon server chip that's comparable with a Core i7 quad-core processor, 12 GB of RAM, and 256 GB worth of storage.
The 'Problem' Blade Wants To Fix
Upgrading and keeping your PC up-to-date can be costly. For instance, you can spend about $1,000 for a high-end rig, but after a year or two, you might be compelled to buy new components to stay the pace, which could set you back by a couple of hundred bucks each time.
With Shadow, your PC is always updated and upgraded, so you don't have to worry about maintaining it, so to speak.
Shadow's Potential Hurdles
One possible problem that users might run into here is that they need a high-speed internet connection. Blade recommends at least 15 Mbps so it can deliver a "seamless experience."
Blade isn't the first to offer this kind of service. Many have failed in this, though, but the startup is aiming for success by providing each user a dedicated machine as opposed to shared resources and offering Shadow only in locations where it has data centers for low latency, according to The Verge.
Another issue that could come out of this is that it may end up being more expensive in some ways, but that applies only to those who don't need to always have the latest components the PC gaming industry has to offer. Put differently, it's a pretty good deal if you want to keep up with the latest components, but it's not that good if you don't.
Last but not least, users might not like the idea of not having any hardware around them — except for the device they're using to access the service, of course. That's why Blade also has a physical box in store, providing two DisplayPort jacks, an Ethernet jack, two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports, and an AMD processor under the hood.
Take note that this isn't exactly like Netflix. By subscribing, you won't have access to games or other content, just a high-end PC.
Blade launched Shadow back in 2016, and it has garnered 5,000 users in France. Now it's set to bring the PC streaming service to the United States on Feb. 15 starting in California and expand across the country sometime in the summer of 2018.