Shadow is one of the more unusual players in the game streaming space. Rather than charging you for the games you want to stream over the internet, Shadow charges you a monthly fee to basically rent a virtual gaming PC hosted in the cloud.
That means you can buy and install just about any game just as if you were running it on a home PC, so the list of games you can play is virtually limitless.
But when Shadow first launched its service in 2018, there was one big sticking point — subscription prices ranged from $35 to $50 per month.
While that’s arguably cheaper than buying a new high-end gaming PC every few years, it’s still a lot of money to spend on equipment you don’t actually own. Now that the game streaming space is getting more competitive, Shadow is trying to make its offering more competitive as well — by slashing the starting price to $12 per month.
What you get for that price is the a Shadow Boost subscription, which gives you the equivalent of an entry-level gaming PC capable of 4K video. But there are also higher-priced options with beefier specs and support for ray-tracing:
- Boost – 3.4 GHz quad-core CPU/NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080/12GB RAM/256GB storage for $12/month
- Ultra – 4 GHz quad-core CPU/NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080/16GB/512GB for $25/month
- Infinite – 4 GHz hexa-core CPU/NVIDIA Titan RTX/32GB/1TB for $40/month
While these prices may not seem particularly cheap for a service that doesn’t actually include any games, Shadow really wants you to compare its subscription with the cost of owning a gaming PC.
For $144 per year, you get the equivalent of $1000-ish gaming PC. The bad news is that if you stop paying for your subscription, you lose access to that PC. The good news is the software and hardware stays up to date — Shadow can upgrade you to the equivalent of a new processor, graphics card, or other gear without your needing to buy new hardware every few years.
One thing to keep an eye out for though? Game publisher buy-in (or lack thereof).
NVIDIA’s GeForce Now service bears a passing resemblance to Shadow, in that rather than charging users a subscription for access to games, it allows customers to buy and install games on their own. But some game publishers haven’t been happy with that business model, and have pulled their support for the service.
Technically GeForce Now should work whether game publishers give their permission or not. But it’s probably not a great idea for one of the dominant makers of PC gaming hardware to get on the bad side of game developers, so NVIDIA has gone along with those requests.
I have no idea whether things will play out differently if game publishers take issue with Shadow’s service. But one thing that does set Shadow’s service apart from NVIDIA’s is that you’re literally renting a full-fledged Windows 10 PC, operating system and all. That means that running a game on Shadow is almost exactly like running it on a remote computer that you own (or rent, in this case) and logging in over a low-latency internet connection to play.
In addition to unveiling its new pricing, Shadow is also announcing that the services is now available in all 50 states in the US, introducing updated Android and Android TV apps, and teasing upcoming support for VR game streaming.