Meet Shadow, the Cloud-Based Gaming PC You Can Access Anywhere (For a Price)[UPDATE]
When you compare Shadow to purchasing your own PC, you might save money in the long run but have nothing to show for it at the end.
Shadow is a company that recently began offering off-site virtual gaming PCs for a monthly subscription, but is their service the solution to getting into PC gaming?
You may have started seeing ads on Facebook or Reddit for Shadow, a subscription-based PC gaming service that promises top-tier gaming performance for $34.95, or for $24.95 if you subscribe for the whole year. That price buys you a GTX 1080 “equivalent” which should get you 60Hz in 4K or 144Hz at 1080p. You also get 12GB of DDR4 RAM and 256GB of solid-state storage, 1Gb/s download speeds and Windows 10.
The important things to note here are that you do not own this PC. You are simply renting out space on a remote server and running a virtual machine on a device. What’s nice is that Shadow promises regular hardware upgrades for no additional cost.
But let’s look and see just how much bang you’re getting for your buck.
24.95 a month for one year is $300. Gaming PCs will usually be able to play new releases for four to five years (fewer if you’re talking about always playing at max settings). My 1070 rig, for example, was purchased in 2016 and should last me at least two more years. Subscribing to Shadow for 4 years would cost $1200 and you wouldn’t own anything if you were to cancel your service after that.
Now let’s see how much a similar computer would cost you to finance.
Computer retailer ibuypower has a deal right now for a gaming PC with an Intel Core i7-9700K, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, a 240GB SSD and 1TB hard drive–and most notably–an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 with 8GB of memory all for $1,499 or $132 a month. This PC is better than the virtual one that Shadow is currently offering and you’ll own it at the end of the year. You’ve got a manufacturer’s warranty on parts and labor, but after you own the computer you foot the bill if you want to upgrade it.
Ultimately the service seems like it has its perks: the ability to play on almost any screen and free maintenance and upgrades. You could save up, and pay a little more each month to own a computer outright but not everyone is willing to drop $1,400 in a year. Shadow looks to be a competitively priced service for people who are tired of their friends telling them that PC is the “master race.”
The key factor here is that the money you sink into a real gaming PC loses value over time. In four or five years your investment might be worth half, or even less than what you originally paid for it. PC gaming is scary for so many because of the fear of obsolescence as compared to the security of knowing that any game that comes out on a PS4 or Xbox One will run (hopefully) as intended. If that fear of the unknown is what’s deterring you from getting into PC gaming then Shadow may be something to consider.
Update: Shadow has reached out to us to let us know that the $24.95/month one-year subscription was only being offered as part of a Cyber Monday deal. Shadow costs $34.95/month regularly.