NVIDIA SHIELD portable Android games console

NVIDIA SHIELD to get Portal but still no European release

Popular first-person puzzle-platform game Portal is to be released for the NVIDIA SHIELD, following a deal between NVIDIA and original developers Valve. Although Portal is available for Window, Mac OS X, the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, the agreement will see it released on a dedicated portable device for the first time.

The SHIELD is an Android-based handheld games console, and NVIDIA hope that the addition of a well-loved game like Portal will help add to its appeal. But despite securing an important content deal, availability of the SHIELD remains limited, with the console only officially on sale in the United States, Canada and Hong Kong.

NVIDIA have spoken openly about the possibility of releasing the SHIELD in the UK. Although the prospects of a UK – let alone a wider European – release remain unclear, with the company having given contrasting statements to different media outlets.

When speaking to CNET UK earlier this year, NVIDIA was noncommittal over the prospects of further international distribution for the SHIELD.

“All I can officially say is that SHIELD was a brand new business for us and selling a consumer electronics product directly to the end-user from NVIDIA was an opportunity for us to learn and to connect with our users in a new way,” a spokesperson said. “We had a lot to learn, which is why we launched the device in the US and Canada first. Naturally this will see us expand into other territories.”

None of this means that it is impossible to get hold of a SHIELD in Europe. In actual fact, it is not especially difficult, albeit through unofficial channels.

Importers are currently selling the SHIELD for around £250 on Amazon UK, €335 on Amazon Germany and €330 on Amazon France. But these figures are considerably above the $249.99 (approximately €180/£150) selling price in the United States – the difference is so large it cannot simply be accounted for by European sales taxes.

Although the SHIELD will continue to attract support from enthusiasts, it is unlikely to find a mainstream audience in Europe until it is released officially.

One possibility is that NVIDIA may seek co-branding partnerships in order to get the SHIELD into stores. The company already has such an arrangement with Dixons Retail, who sell the NVIDIA Tegra Note 7 under their ADVENT Vega brand in branches of Currys and PC World.

A similar deal over the SHIELD would be more of a risk for retailers, though. The UK has a big tablet market, and it is commonplace for stores to sell their own brand tablets, as a result. Android-based portable games consoles, by contrast, remain an unproven commodity.