NVIDIA GRID Demo Dazzles Gamers at CES

by Brian Caulfield

Here at our bustling CES booth, it can be hard to talk about NVIDIA’s GRID Cloud Gaming Platform to visitors like Joe Romero and Evan Smith.

That’s because the 20-something buddies were so engrossed in a game of “Assassin’s Creed III” being streamed to them on a MacBook Pro that they barely had time to make eye contact.

Small screen, big action: Joe Romero enjoys 'Need for Speed,' on a smartphone.
Small screen, big action: playing ‘Need for Speed,’ on a smartphone.

They’re huge fans of the game, and have played through it several times. Ordinarily, doing so requires a powerful gaming console or a PC equipped with the latest GPU. The game isn’t available on Macs.

But thanks to the powerful hardware and software powering NVIDIA’s GRID, gamers at the show are enjoying “Assassin’s Creed III,” and other premium games on a range of notebook computers, tablets, smartphones, and even smart TVs.

“This is just smooth,” Romero said as his character took out a pair of virtual foes aboard an 18th century warship.

“Extremely smooth,” Smith added, eyes glued to the stream.

NVIDIAN Vijay Ramadoss, who’s working at the booth, says “smooth” is the word most visitors use to describe their experience with GRID.

“People are excited by the fact they can do gaming on mobile devices as well as PCs,” Ramadoss says, who enjoys using GRID to play “Need for Speed,” an intense racing game published by Electronic Arts.

While our GRID demo was packed with gamers happily clicking their way through their favorite titles, it took a little while for Jeffrey Herman with IMA Test, a company that sells equipment for testing smartphone cameras, to get his head around what he was seeing.

“So you’re taking a 3D game at this quality and pushing it from the cloud to any screen?” he asked. “Wow, that’s pretty impressive.”

He wasn’t the only one dazzled by the ability to play intense 3D action games on wafer-thin devices. “It’s crazy, I was playing “Street Fighter” on a smartphone over there, and it was unreal,” said Basil Kronfli, a writer with Know Your Mobile, a UK blog that covers mobile devices.

As he spoke, Kronfli delivered a crushing series of combos to an opponent in the beat ‘em up game running on a tablet computer, momentarily losing his train of thought.

“Sorry,” he said. “I’m engrossed.”