If the launch of the gaming-oriented Razer Phone tells us anything, it’s that there are companies out there ready to take Android as a gaming platform seriously. But even if you spring for a high-end Android device like the aforementioned Razer Phone, the OnePlus 5T or the Pixel 2 XL, you’re not likely to find more than casual games like Asphalt 8, Temple Run 2, Clash Royale or Pokémon GO on the Google Play Store.
That’s not true of every Android device out there, though. In fact, NVIDIA’s Shield line of devices (which are powered by Tegra system-on-chips, just like the Nintendo Switch gaming console) have access to lots of blockbuster games, including Borderlands 2, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Resident Evil 5. And thanks to a partnership with Nintendo in China, the list recently grew to include classics such as New Super Mario Bros. Wii and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
NVIDIA Shield-compatible games are optimized for Nvidia Shield devices, ostensibly, and they’re only available from NVIDIA’s app marketplace or the Android TV section of the Play Store. But there’s nothing technical preventing other devices from running them. With a little know-how and elbow grease, you can download and install Shield and Android TV games on non-Shield devices. As long as said devices are powerful enough to run them, they’ll work almost flawlessly. The best part? Root or other modifications are not required!
A disclaimer first, though: We can’t guarantee that all Shield and Android TV games will run on all Android devices. Since they’re meant for the Shield TV, your smartphone or tablet might lack certain required APIs and features. However, there’s no harm in trying out and reporting the results in the comments!
How to Legall Install Android TV or NVIDIA Shield Games on any Android Device
For this tutorial, we’re going to use an application called the Yalp Store. It’s basically a third-party client for the Google Play Store that allows you to download apps directly as APK files, update your existing apps, and, if you’re rooted, update and install apps in the background. The Yalp Store, which is recommended for Gapps-less ROM setups, is completely open-source, safe to use, and available from F-Droid’s.
Once you’ve configured the Yalp Store, you’ll need to sign in with your Google account in order to access your purchased games and download them on your phone, or to purchase new ones. If you don’t own the NVIDIA Shield TV or other Android TV device, try following these steps:
- Go to the app settings.
- Navigate to the option “Pretend to be a different device”.
- Select the NVIDIA Shield TV.
- Untick “Delete APK after installation”.
- Search for a free application or game in the Yalp Store.
- When prompted, select the option “Log in with your Google account” and enter your credentials.
- Download any application or game.
This will associate a phantom NVIDIA Shield TV with your Google Play Store account alongside your real Android tablets and smartphones. It’ll also allow you to buy and download NVIDIA Shield games. Here’s how:
- Log into the desktop version of the Google Play Store.
- Search for the game you want to buy.
- Since you already “own” a Shield TV, you’ll be able to buy and download the game.
- Once you’ve purchased it, go back to the Yalp Store.
- Search for the game you just bought using your account.
- Download and install it.
If you own an NVIDIA Shield TV, then the process is a lot easier: Just purchase a game from your device (or search for a game you already own), go to the Yalp Store on your phone, and download it.
What the Yalp Store does is pretty simple. For starters, it simply crawls through the Google Play Store, gets APK files using either a pre-configured dummy account or your own personal account, and downloads those APK packages to your phone. What you’re doing is simply spoofing our device as an NVIDIA Shield TV or other Android TV device, buying the games you want, downloading the APKs of those games (which are made for the same hardware architecture as your phone, ARM) and installing them. And while some games might not work flawlessly, they were purchased legally — there’s no piracy involved.
Games like The Talos Principle, Grim Fandango, and The Walking Dead S03 have been reported to work fine on Android phones. Your mileage may vary with some of bigger, more demanding title like Borderlands 2, but we encourage you to try them out and let us know in the comment section.