There's been another blow for cloud gaming this week as Blade, the company behind the rent-a-gaming-PC-in-the-cloud service Shadow, has filed for bankruptcy in the US and has been placed in receivership in their home country of France. They are now seeking new investment, and are hopeful that "Shadow's adventure will continue," according to a statement on their website.
In case you're unfamiliar with Blade and their Shadow service, it was one of the big three cloud gaming services I reviewed at the beginning of last year alongside Google Stadia and Nvidia's GeForce Now. Unlike its competitors, Shadow offered players an entire PC experience that could be streamed to a myriad of different devices. It was impressive stuff when I tried it out for myself, but it wasn't without its own problems, including a high monthly subscription cost and continued delays in rolling out its various upgrade plans.
Blade have now said they've become "a victim of its own success". Having attracted "thousands of users" over the last five years, there are still "thousands more" waiting in the wings, according to their statement, "as demand continues to increase despite lengthening delays."
Whether those users will ever get to access the service they've been waiting for has now been called into question, though, as server provider 2CRSi is now claiming back money owed the company. According to 2CRSi's statement, the company has the right to take €30.2 million worth of hardware currently being used by Blade, and there's also mention of a further financial debt of €3.7 million.
Why is this happening now? It's all tied up the ongoing hardware shortages we're facing around the world. "Given the shortage of electronic components and more specifically graphics cards since the end of 2020," 2CRSi go on to say in their statement, "there is a strong demand on the market for this type of equipment and 2CRSi has already received indications of interest from several customers for the servers involved."
As for Shadow, the company now faces a reorganisation "in order to free ourselves from the debt holding us back" from developing their cloud technology further. They'll also be seeking new investors over the coming weeks, and will announce further plans once they've been finalised.
If you're an existing Shadow subscriber, there's an FAQ on their site that explains what will happen to current users, as well as information on how to cancel any existing pre-orders. In short, subscriptions "will remain fully functional", according to Blade, and there will be "no impacts on the service" while they undergo their restructuring.
Just last month, Google Stadia also announced they were closing their two game development studios and cancelling multiple projects after a change in strategy. Stadia will still continue to exist as a platform for third parties, Google have said, but their plans to create exclusive first party content for it have now ceased.