The Wall Street Journal’s David Pierce details Blade, a new service run out of France that allows customers with high speed internet connections to virtually use a very powerful computer they don’t actually own. For a monthly fee, users are given access to a machine powerful enough to play the latest, graphic intensive games or run processor-heavy programs like graphical editing software. Pierce likens the service to an Uber for computers. He writes:
Sometimes a game just clicks for me. Last week, when I bought “Call of Duty: WWII,” the latest in the epic series of shooter games, I found a gritty mess of a game unlike anything I’d ever played. I couldn’t put it down.
So I didn’t. I played on my home computer, my work computer, my phone, an iPad, my 65-inch Android-powered Sony TV—even a crappy old Android tablet I found in the closet. On every device, all I had to do was log into the Shadow app, made by a French startup called Blade. As soon as I did, poof: I was right back on the beaches in Normandy. I could even pause the game on one device then immediately pick it up on another.
How is that possible? Because the “computer” that was running my game is actually a virtual system housed in a data center somewhere. Every time I log in, Blade spins up the processing and graphics power needed to run a gamer-grade Windows PC. Wherever I have a superfast connection to the internet, my machine is there for me. I can access it via any device with an internet connection and a screen—as long as I pay the subscription fee.
Operating in France for about a year, Blade is expanding to the U.S., and pitching itself initially to gamers, who it hopes will pay for the sort of performance Shadow offers. But this phenomenon isn’t just about gaming.
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