Gaming Hardware

Shadow Hive: the next big gaming network?

Shadow Hive
Coming out in Hives: Shadow has a new social network

Gamers aren’t short of social networks: Twitch, Discord, not to mention the networks for each of the major consoles. However, Shadow thinks there’s room for one more in the market in the form of Hive – and it’s certainly bringing something different to the game. 

A synopsis for those not familiar with Shadow – it’s a service that allows you to rent a virtual gaming PC online. You pay £27 a month for a dedicated Windows installation and can install whatever you like on your remote PC, which is hosted in a data centre in Paris.

The feed from the PC can be streamed to almost any device – laptop, tablet or even smartphones – and it doesn’t really matter how little power that device has. It’s doing little more than displaying the stream. We reviewed Shadow recently and you can get the lowdown here

What is Shadow Hive?

Hive is a new network for Shadow subscribers – of which there are currently 50,000, according to the company. 

I was shown a preview of the new network at a briefing in London this week and it’s unlike any other gaming network I’ve seen before.

Its standout feature is Extreme mode, where players can add extra spice to their games by changing the in-game behaviour. This was demonstrated using the hugely popular Rocket League. In one match, you could have the screen turned upside down, in the next the controls are inverted, so when you press forward on the controller the car moves backwards. The screen can be turned into a mosaic or have weird ‘intoxicating’ effects applied. 

The clever bit is this doesn’t need the games developers to do anything. Shadow has the ability to adapt the games itself and the company insists that the games developers it has spoken with are perfectly happy for them to do so.

Another feature that might have more mainstream appeal is the ability to peek at a friend’s screen, even if they’re miles away or on the other side of the world. Let’s say you’re playing as a Squad in Fortnite Battle Royale, for instance, and you want to see what one of your teammates is looking at. You could press a keyboard shortcut (say Ctrl + 1) and switch to a live feed of your pal’s screen, potentially allowing you to give them advice on how to deal with opponents, for example, or give you a heads up of what awaits you when you catch up with them.

It will be interesting to see how studios such as Epic respond to such a feature, as being able to see a live feed of your teammates’ screens might be regarded as cheating. 

Hive will be a free part of the core Shadow service when it launches in beta early next year.

Shadow upgrades

The core Shadow service is also getting some key upgrades. 

The long-awaited support for double and even triple-screen setups is on its way. You’ll even be able to use devices such as an iPad or secondary laptop as your Shadow’s ‘second screen’, meaning you don’t necessarily need a multi-monitor setup at home to benefit.

Shadow

The GPU, CPU and memory afforded to subscribers is also set for an upgrade in the coming year, with Shadow moving to 12GB of memory dedicated to each player, instead of the slightly stingy 8GB you’re afforded currently. 

Perhaps the most exciting prospect of all, however, was Shadow’s founder Stephane Heliot telling me about the way Shadow could potentially support truly massively multiplayer gaming. 

Imagine, he said, a Fortnite Battle Royale with a thousand players instead of a hundred, or a Trackmania race with a hundred other players instead of ten. All perfectly possible with the Shadow infrastructure, he insisted, they just need to work with the developers to make it happen. A new partnership with Trackmania’s studio, Nadeo, suggests that might be sooner rather than later. 

All Shadow users are getting a free copy of Trackmania2 Stadium as part of the deal. 

Now click here: Read our full Shadow review

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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