NVIDIA's GeForce NOW game streaming service exited beta last week and became a commercial “shipping” product. What makes GeForce NOW so special is that it connects to existing PC game stores, allowing you to stream games that you have already purchased to major computing platforms.
So, despite the fact that you might have an underpowered PC, a Mac, a Chromebook, or even an Android smartphone, it's still possible to partake in 1008p 60fps gaming from anywhere as long as you have a stable internet connection (~30Mbps). Everything appeared to be going swimmingly for the service until today, when Activision Blizzard decided to pull all of its games from GeForce NOW.
Activision Blizzard Pulls The Plug On GeForce NOW Cloud Gaming
NVIDIA announced Activision Blizzard's change of heart in a GeForce NOW forum post, stating, "As we take GeForce NOW to the next step in its evolution, we’ve worked with publishers to onboard a robust catalog of your PC games. This means continually adding new games, and on occasion, having to remove games – similar to other digital service providers.
"Per their request, please be advised Activision Blizzard games will be removed from the service. While unfortunate, we hope to work together with Activision Blizzard to reenable these games and more in the future."
Needless to say, gamers are hoppin' made about this swift turn of event for GeForce NOW and the plethora of popular games from the publisher that will no longer be accessible. No more Call of Duty, no more Overwatch or World of Warcraft... you get the idea. What's even more puzzling is that Activision Blizzard was happy to play along when GeForce NOW was chugging along during its beta phase, but apparently got cold feet once NVIDIA was ready to take off the training wheels.
"I know it's not Nvidia fault, but if you cannot convince the big editor like Blizzard, Square Enix and Capcom, GeForce NOW will die," write topher62119 in response to NVIDIA's forum post. "And if the future games update is the same as today, i think you will lose a lot of user[s]."
"Unfortunately, I'm going to cancel my subscription because of this," added JustinIsHere. "I mainly used this service for Overwatch and COD MW but now that Activision is pulling out, I won't have a need for it anymore. Hopefully a deal can be made between GFN and Activision soon."
NVIDIA Is Just As Surprised As Everyone Else
We decided to go to the source to see what's going on, and was able to get some insight from our contacts at NVIDIA. According to our sources, NVIDIA had been working with Activision Blizzard for a lengthy period during the GeForce NOW beta phase, so they were just as surprised as we were about the sudden pullout. It wasn’t until today that things went south when the publisher today asked that all of their game be immediately removed from GeForce NOW.
What's especially troubling is that gamers have already purchased these games, so they should have access to them from GeForce NOW and other compatible services. This isn't something like Stadia where customers are paying a monthly fee to basically "rent" an AAA title -- these games are already paid for and in your library.
Adding to the confusion is that GeForce NOW allows gamers to login with their same credentials when accessing their game, giving Activision Blizzard access to highly lucrative microtransactions. Add that to the fact that customers will be accessing these games from even more places (and not just their home gaming rig), and it would seem like it would be a missed opportunity to ramp up monetization efforts.
What’s Really Going On Here?
In other words, something here just doesn't add up. Was there some outside influence from another company; perhaps a competitor for GeForce NOW? Some seem to suggest that perhaps Google is throwing down the gauntlet to put its Stadia streaming service in a better position in this growing cloud game field. However, we have no evidence to suggest that this is actually the case.
Or perhaps it’s simpler than that. Maybe Activision Blizzard is working on its own game streaming service and wants to “keep its cards close to the vest”. At this point, we really don’t know what the motive was, but it really would be nice to get a direct response from Activision Blizzard on what’s going on. Rather than leaving gamers in a lurch – many of whom bought the publisher’s games specifically for use on GeForce NOW – how about at least explaining the reasoning behind the decision? We think gamers deserve to know.