Author Topic: Shadow Tech - Cloud based gaming solution  (Read 1191 times)

The Minsky Moment

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Shadow Tech - Cloud based gaming solution
« on: January 05, 2021, 01:02:45 pm »
I've been using this service for a couple months now - thought it may be of some interest.

Background is that I have no "gaming rig" - just a Surface Pro 6 and a grab bag of legacy laptops.  Had an old iMac that died a year ago. I subscribe to the MSFT game pass service which now allows streaming of X box games from their cloud but not PC.  The SP 6 can handle the like of Age of Empires II but not CK 3 and certainly not the new flight sim.  However, the thought of dropping bucks on a bulky new rig just to play games and that would be obsolete in 12-16 months did not seem attractive.  So I tried out Shadow Tech, a cloud computing solution.

When you subscribe, shadow assigns you your own shadow computer.  You connect to the internet, click on their app and it take you to your shadow.  The shadow computer looks exactly like a Windows computing environment - in fact it is an Windows computing environment that is maintained by Shadow in their server array.  Although the service is aimed at gamers, in theory you can do anything with the shadow computer that you could do in a regular Windows computer, like write letters, send emails, edit videos, etc. First time you connect the the shadow you calibrate your settings and then install whatever games you want either directly or using whatever service or platform you want - e.g., steam, gamepass, etc.

The specs of the shadow vary depending on what level you subscribe to.  The entry level, which I am using gives you the equivalent or better of a 3.4 GHz processor, 12 GB RAM and a GTX1080 GPU. if you pay more you can get snazzier specs, with the highest tier using a Titan RTX GPU or equivalent.  The entry level gives you 256 GB of storage, you can add additional 256 GBs for $3/month.  The higher level tiers give you higher amounts of base storage.  Cost of a full year subscription at the base tier is $11.99 per month, rising to $25/month for the mid-tier and $40/mo for the top tier.  You can cancel for no charge within the first 14 days. 

if you want to get the service it does take time to provision.  When I signed up I was told it would take over 3 months to provision; in fact it took about a month and a half,  but YMMV.

OK how does it work?  Pretty well overall:

The biggest plus is that you can play on pretty much any smart device with a screen.  I have played games through Shadow on the SP6, on an iPad, on a Kindle Fire tablet (with some sideloading required), and directly on an Android TV (Hisense). I've also used the shadow to play VR games on the SP6 which are then beamed wirelessly to an Oculus Quest headset (i.e. no tethering or wires required). There are some limitations based on the ability of the device in question to work with peripherals. E.g. in theory you can use a mouse with an iPad but it doesn't work that great; however, using a PS4 or Xbox controller works fine. 

The Shadow itself works pretty well with most peripherals and usually can recognize them without a hitch.  It did have some difficulties with a legacy Saitek X45 flight stick which took about 10 minutes and some reboots to get up and work properly.

Shadow recommends using a wired connection, presumably to avoid customer calls, but I've found that a strong wireless connection works just fine for most purposes. (I get about 200 Mbps+ in the rooms where I have been using it).  I was able to run the VR games without a noticeable hitch despite the two streams.  I have seen an occasional hitch in flightsim.  If you are pretty casual like me AND if you have good wifi, it shouldn't be an issue.  I did notice more lags when I ran it in a room with a weaker connection. If you are into esports or are very competitive about Counterstrike or the like, it may not be for you.  If your wifi isn't great and you don't have a lot of convenient wired connections it may not be the best solution.
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Re: Shadow Tech - Cloud based gaming solution
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2021, 10:26:47 pm »
Thanks for that JR, very interesting.

Certainly something I'd try if I wanted to play more modern games, as I have a similar array of computers/laptops as you.

Available in the UK but unfortunately rural broadband lets it down:

Quote
Your connection does not match some requirements
We found out that your connection’s download, upload and ping don’t match our requirements. Look below for tips to resolve issues and try again!

Download speed
13  Mbps
Min. 15 Mbps

Upload speed
0.85  Mbps
Min. 5 Mbps

Ping
Avg: 41 ms
Max. 30 ms

Jitter:
6ms
Max. 10 ms

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viper37

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Re: Shadow Tech - Cloud based gaming solution
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2021, 01:52:21 pm »
However, the thought of dropping bucks on a bulky new rig just to play games and that would be obsolete in 12-16 months did not seem attractive. 
It's not *that* bad anymore.  Mine is close to 3 years old (except the goddam video card that I thought died on me  :glare: ) and still does the job pretty well for everything I have played so far.

But for casual gamers, it might be a very interesting service. :)
« Last Edit: January 06, 2021, 01:55:12 pm by viper37 »
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Re: Shadow Tech - Cloud based gaming solution
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2021, 09:06:14 am »
Thanks Minsky!
I've been tempted by that as well. I have an older Macbook pro with maxed out RAM (16 GB) and a new SSD (1 TB, split between Win 10 and Mac OS) and it runs older games like CK2 and Flight Simulator X pretty well, but there's limits on how nice I can make FSX look with an integrated graphics card, and forget about FS2020.
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The Minsky Moment

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Re: Shadow Tech - Cloud based gaming solution
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2021, 03:32:11 pm »
Check and see if they still have the 14 day tryout period.
I think I can get you a referral code too - worth a few bucks to each of us.
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Re: Shadow Tech - Cloud based gaming solution
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2021, 10:53:29 pm »
I think the tryout only applies to people in certain states, of which Virginia is not one. Eh, if it doesn't work out, I'll just be out $12 bucks, so I'll give it a try.
Thanks Minsky, I think you do get a discount for every person who you refer and it looks like I just need your referral code at checkout.
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Re: Shadow Tech - Cloud based gaming solution
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2021, 02:14:02 pm »
Well, looks like they were too successful and will declare bankruptcy  :huh:
https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2021-03-08-cloud-gaming-firm-blade-seeking-investment-after-filing-for-bankruptcy

Quote
Blade, the firm that operates cloud gaming service Shadow for PC, hopes to find new investment as it faces bankruptcy in the US and receivership in its home market of France.

The company offers Shadow subscribers access to a gaming-specific PC setup hosted on a remote server, enabling them to stream and play games on any device.

Blade says it has attracted thousands of subscribers in the past five years, with "thousands more... waiting their turn" as it struggles to find enough servers to keep up with demand.

The business has now suffered a setback, with server provider 2CRSi claiming back money owed by Blade.

According to 2CRSi's statement, the company has the right to take €30.2 million worth of hardware currently used by Blade, with further mention of financial debt around the contract amounting to €3.7 million.

The IT provider notes the "shortage of electronic components and more specifically graphics cards" due to the COVID-19 pandemic has increased demand for its equipment. 2CRSi has already received interest from other customers for the servers currently used by Blade.

The Paris Commercial Court began receivership proceedings on March 2. The following day, Blade's US arm filed for bankruptcy in the California Northern Bankruptcy Court.

A day later, Blade posted a statement to the Shadow website, announcing it will undergo reorganisation of the company in order to "free ourselves of from the debt holding us back" from continuing to develop its technology.

The company claims Shadow "became a victim of its success."

Blade will now seek investors over the next few weeks, promising to announce its plans going forward once funding has been secured.

An FAQ on the site assures subscribers that their accounts, pre-orders and the service in general will not be impacted by these events.

Omdia analyst George Jijiashvili notes on Twitter that Octave KLaba, founder of OVHcloud, has stated his intention to buy Blade and its Shadow service through his investment fund.

However, Klaba apparently plans to focus on developing "European alternative to Office365 [and] G-Suite" rather than building up the gaming service.

Yeah, since it was too successful, it only makes sense to transform it into another cloud office suite clone.  :huh:
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Re: Shadow Tech - Cloud based gaming solution
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2021, 02:54:10 pm »
that would be obsolete in 12-16 months

I feel those days are over for the moment. I bought my previous PC in 2016; an i7-6800 with an nVidia GTX 1080 and 32 GB RAM. It wasn't cheap at the time, but I only retired it last year (after 4 years of heavy use) after much thought, because it was still running great and still handled most modern games fine in 1080p, including the new Flight Sim. RTX and the jump in performance at lower prices made me pick up a new PC at this point, and if hardware development continues apace I expect to get another 4 or so years out of it.
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The Minsky Moment

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Re: Shadow Tech - Cloud based gaming solution
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2021, 02:47:35 pm »
So far - still operating as normal  ...

In the US the bankuptcy court has approved a section 363 sale.  Hopefully there is a buyer that will continue the business.

They have 100K subscribers in the US but the revenue wasn't enough to pay costs. I'd be willing to pay a bit more to keep the service; I'd hate to lose the convenience.

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The Minsky Moment

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Re: Shadow Tech - Cloud based gaming solution
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2021, 11:22:45 pm »
Their PR

Quote

Earlier this week, the two companies bidding to take over Shadow presented their cases to the French administrative judge. The court will now review all available materials and make its final decision on April 30, 2021.

The good great news:
both companies submitted very strong bids, and we can safely say both bidders are committed to continue and grow the business.

Once the buyer has been chosen, we will work with them closely to announce our joint vision of the future of Shadow, and will get cracking on making the service the best damn thing you’ve ever experienced.

That seems to accord with what I saw in the Chapter 11 filings.  There are two well-financed French bidders  - both have their own server banks so they can vertically integrate.  One has explicitly said they are acquiring the US assets, the other has been silent, which is concerning.

I don't get why an Amazon or a Sony doesn't snap this service up and use it to build a huge cloud gaming platform to take on Microsoft.  The amount of money involved would be nothing to them.
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viper37

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Re: Shadow Tech - Cloud based gaming solution
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2021, 01:29:20 pm »
Sony, possibly because they aren't in the market of virtualized servers and can't make a buck just with it.

Amazon... It would fit nicely with their expanding gaming services, but they probably figure they can generate more stable revenues from their commercial servers.  Attacking Microsoft on the gaming front might be too early for them.
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Re: Shadow Tech - Cloud based gaming solution
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2021, 07:05:29 pm »
Seems out of Amazon's bailiwick, you're right. 
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The Minsky Moment

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Re: Shadow Tech - Cloud based gaming solution
« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2021, 10:14:43 pm »
So good news is that they got bought by a well-financed French cloud computing company.

Bad news is price is going up.  Not a huge surprise as the entry tier was ridiculously cheap and Shadow was obviously losing money on it.

The 3 tier system is being reduced to a single tier service, priced at about double what I am paying now. So not great for me personally.

It is not yet clear whether the single tier service will improve at all on the specs of the current basic tier.  And despite going to a single tier, it looks like there will be a la carte options to add improvements for a price. 
The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists.
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