Official website: shield.nvidia.com
Background: The Shield is Nvidia's entry into the high-end Android games market. Meant to attract niche core players, the mobile handheld has a high-powered Tegra 4 processor for the most demanding Android games, and it also has the ability to stream games from your PC, if you have the right setup. Players can also output to an HDTV for a big-screen experience.
Availability: Out now
It's totally open. Like Mad Catz' Mojo console, the Shield is a truly open Android console that is accessible to anyone who wants to make an Android game.
It connects directly to the biggest app stores. This is pure Android, so creating, reviewing and publishing on major storefronts like Google Play and Amazon Appstore is all done on your terms. Nvidia's TegraZone is additional curation of top games that leverage Tegra's power.
It's a powerful device. This has an Nvidia Tegra 4 processor and a 5-inch 720p multi-touch display. Your games will look plenty pretty.
Nvidia's developer resources. There's a lot of documentation and details from Nvidia about developing for Tegra and Android already, and that's helpful for game developers.
It streams PC games. This is more of a "pro" for players who buy the Shield, but it does have the ability to stream a select number of PC games to the device, locally via wi-fi.
It's totally open. This is Android game development, and it can be a Wild West. Because it's open, there's a very large community of people who can help you with issues, but in a way, you're kind of on your own to figure things out. Also, piracy.
Connects directly to common app stores. There are hundreds of thousands of apps on Android. This is a pretty red ocean, and discovery of your game is in large part at the mercy of the storefront.
It's pricey for players. Don't expect loads of sales from this device, at least right off the bat. As Nvidia doesn't take a cut from a proprietary storefront, the Shield is stuck at a $299 pricetag, and caters to a small niche of core players. But your Android game will be on plenty of other platforms, so Shield's install base won't necessarily dictate your game's success. It's just a matter of whether you want to add compatibility.
Limited PC game streaming compatibility. Developers need to make their games compatible with the PC streaming features of Shield, and players need to have a GeForce GTX GPU. To be fair, this feature is still in beta.
Because Nvidia has been so active in the mobile space already as a chip provider, there's a lot of information out there to help developers get started on the Tegra- and Android-based Shield. The latest Tegra Android Development Pack launched alongside Shield, and gives developers the right tools for Shield development.
There's documentation, downloads, blogs and other support right here: https://developer.nvidia.com/develop4shield
As this is open Android, you conduct your own QA and review process. You're the one to click publish. After that, your app shows up on storefronts that are accessible straight from the Shield. Google does have some (very) basic guidelines that it tries to enforce when releasing on Google Play (see them here), as well as best practices (seem them here).
Give it away for free, go the advertising route, make it subscription-based, do free-to-play with in-app purchases. This is pure Android, so the choice is yours.
70/30 (Developer/Google Play or Amazon Appstore). Nvidia doesn’t take a cut.
Processor: Nvidia Tegra 4 Quad Core Mobile Processor with 2GB RAM
Display: 5 inch 1280x720 (294 ppi) Multi-Touch Retinal Quality Display
Audio: Integrated Stereo Speakers with Built-in Microphone
Storage: 16GB Flash Memory
Wireless: 802.11n 2x2 Mimo Wi-Fi, Bluetooth: 3.0, GPS
Connectivity: Mini-HDMI output, Micro-USB 2.0, MicroSD storage slot, 3.5mm stereo headphone jack with microphone support
Motion Sensors: 3 Axis Gyro, 3 Axis Accelerometer
3-axis gyro, 3-axis accelerometer, Dual analog joysticks, D-pad, Left/right analog triggers, Left/right bumpers, A/B/X/Y buttons, Volume control, Android Home and Back buttons, Start button, Nvidia power/multi-function button
You can see a few more specs here: http://shield.nvidia.com/portable-features/
Android Jelly Bean