When discussing the subject of PC gaming, Nvidia is a brand almost everyone in the arena is familiar with. Known for its GPUs and processors, the American manufacturer has been around for over two decades.
Founded in 1993, it took two years for Nvidia to launch its first product, the NV1 – a PCI card with a 2D/3D graphics core based on quadratic texture mapping. That year saw Sega port Virtua Fighter to PC to become the first 3D game to run on Nvidia graphics.
The company has not stopped since, and shifting to the present day, Nvidia’s Northern Europe and South Africa consumer sales manager, Matt Wright, confidently tells PCR: “We’re at the top of the performance race.”
Nvidia has come a long way since the NV1. The firm has recently moved into a new area with its portable Shield range and it is investing heavily in its future by placing a focus on innovations like 4K gaming. However, it’s still focused on the core PC graphics card market, having launched the GeForce 780 Ti late last year and its high-end Titan Z this year to compete with AMD.
“Our goal is to give our customers the best possible experience in the latest game titles,” explains Wright.
“This means we work hard, together with our tight-knit channel ecosystem, to be able to deliver the hardware needed to satisfy the appetite of today’s gamer.”
With the PC shipment market stabilising for the first time in two years, Wright puts a big part of the revival of PCs down to the gaming industry: “Custom built PCs are no longer big and bulky. They are small, sleek, living-room friendly powerhouses.”
Wright believes this in turn has contributed to the healthy growth in the system builder market and Nvidia is keen to support retailers who are upselling components.
“We offer direct support to our system builder partners to ensure the rigs that they build perform at their best. Involving our partners early on a new GPU or product launch allows them to be one step ahead of the competition,” he tells PCR.
As well as retail, Nvidia is working closely with those in the esports industry, including large events such as Multiplay’s i-series and Dreamhack, along with key partners that support esports like Razer and Alienware.
“Esports is hugely important for the PC market. You just have to look at the Far East to see the effect it’s having there,” he explains.
“Its popularity is growing significantly in the UK too and with services such as Twitch there’s now the means to get esports out to a much wider audience.”
It is clear that Nvidia is excited about this emerging market, and while Wright keeps tight-lipped about what’s in store, he does reveal that the firm is ‘looking forward to announcing more specific plans’ with regards to esports.
Stepping back to things the company can talk about, when asked to explain the thought process behind launching the new Shield gaming tablet, Wright reveals that it is targeted at both gaming enthusiasts and those who want a ‘premium tablet experience’.
“The idea behind the tablet was to deliver a differentiated solution for a specific gamer market and to show what’s possible with mobile gaming and visual computing when combining the right hardware and software,” he continues.
The tablet is not the first device in the Shield range. The Shield Portable arrived last year. Pitted as an all-in-one mobile gaming device, it features a controller with a screen attached to it that can stream games from a PC.
Wright explains that with the Shield series, the firm saw a hole that needed filling: “The Shield Portable was a brand new business for us. We built it because we saw a need to lead the way and build a more ‘core gaming’ focused mobile platform and it has performed great. It fills the need that we thought it would.”
Looking towards to future once again, Wright reveals how he imagines the graphics card market will evolve in the years to come: “Graphics cards will continue to get faster – adding new features like DX12, more memory, and continuing to support higher speed interfaces for things like 4K multi-screen gaming.
“With our Tegra K1 processor, you’ll also see PC GPU architecture delivering state-of-the-art features on mobile for the first time, with performance beyond that of an Xbox 360 or PS3 – now that’s a true revolution.”