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Nvidia will shut down Shield TV's GameStream PC feature

Nvidia shield gamestream, set-top box over game boxesImage: Nvidia

Seven years after its initial launch, the Nvidia Shield TV is still held up as one of the best premium set-top boxes on the market. That’s mostly due to its streaming video prowess, but there’s also the GameStream system, which let gamers stream PC games from a local Nvidia-powered laptop or desktop. Despite heavily advertising the technology since the original Shield Portable, Nvidia will shut down the streaming service in February.

The Shield TV’s GameStream feature runs on a local network, and needs a powerful PC in the same building in order to work. It shouldn’t be confused with Nvidia GeForce Now, the cloud gaming service which streams PC games from an Nvidia data center (and which charges for its most premium features). The latter seems to be the focus of Nvidia’s streaming strategy going forward, and doesn’t appear to be in danger of disappearing at the time of writing.

GameStream began its life on the original Shield, the chunky, Android-powered portable that debuted in 2013. At the time it was the best option on the market for low-latency streaming PC games from a desktop to a portable device, even if it did require high-end network equipment to work well. The Shield Portable never got a second-generation device (ditto for the Shield Tablet) but the GameStream service remained a banner feature as Nvidia transitioned the brand into a powerful gaming-focused set-top box.

The market is in a different place today. GameStream will disappear with a device update in February 2023. The short email doesn’t give a reason for the shutdown, but it’s a safe guess that the company is transitioning resources from a product feature that’s probably seldom-used into GeForce Now, and the potential subscription revenue it might generate. That’s understandable, but GeForce Now isn’t a one-to-one replacement for GameStream: its library is limited (with some publishers like Activision absent entirely) and users can’t adjust most graphical settings.

In its announcement email, Nvidia suggests gamers replace GameStream with Steam Link, which works well on the Android TV-powered device. Other services like Moonlight also fit that particular niche.

Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

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