NVIDIA just launched its shiny new SHIELD console, both the regular 16 GB model and the 500 GB “Pro” version, just in time for Google I/O last week and Computex this week. But as sweet as a gaming device might be, it’s strength can only really be measured by the amount of content available for it. And to help create more content for its SHIELD devices, which in this case means Android games, NVIDIA is introducing a new tool based off its GameWorks tools called, what else, AndroidWorks.
NVIDIA’s core business has always been associated with gaming so, naturally, its development tools are geared towards that. But developing games on PCs is not exactly the same as developing for mobile, particularly on Android. In particular, it requires the use of different tools and different workflows, which could be a bit scary for those just starting to get their feet wet on mobile game development.
AndroidWorks tries to ease the growing pains by providing an easy to install package for getting started. Google itself has opted to provide a single Android Studio SDK package instead of the multiple separate tools previously needed. Now NVIDIA takes that one step further by bundling the Android SDK and NDK with its own custom game development tools, like Nsight with Visual Studio integration, Graphics Debugger, and System Profiler. NVIDIA advertises it as all the tools you’ll need to make Android games, all wrapped up in one single installer.
The most interesting part of AndroidWorks, however, is not the tool itself but the fact that it’s available even for Android devices that don’t use NVIDIA’s Tegra chips. Although it is indeed based on NVIDIA’s Tegra Android Developer Pack, it supports other devices as well, including the Samsung Galaxy Tab S, the Nexus 7, Nexus 6, and Nexus Player, just to name a few.
This is definitely a welcome offer for game developers, though probably a slightly risky business move that could detract some attention off NVIDIA’s SHIELD devices. That said, NVIDIA probably knows that in order for its own SHIELD gaming devices to become much desired purchases, the Android market needs to be similarly filled with much desired games.