GeForce Now is a cloud gaming service run by Nvidia that has been enshrouded in controversy since its official launch in February 2020. But why? Let’s take a look.
The service, which was formally known as NVIDIA GRID, launched in beta back in 2013 before releasing across various platforms and launching to the general public on February 4th, 2020. Essentially, GeForce Now is a subscription service which allows players to stream video games via the cloud.
GeForce Now has been described as what Google’s Stadia should have been, as it plays betters, offers additional graphical support and allows you to play games you already own. Players who purchase a digital game via Steam can reinstall it on GeForce Now’s virtual machine and play it via the cloud service.
However, GeForce Now has become rather controversial over the last month as Activision Blizzard, Bethesda and indie developer Hinterland Studio have pulled their games from the service due to varying problems. after claiming the Nvidia never acquired their permission to include the games.
Why Have Games Developers Pulled Their Content From The Service?
Hinterland Studio’s Raphael van Lierop claims his The Long Dark game was included in the paid service without his permission. Activision Blizzard pulled its games due to a licensing dispute and because Nvidia failed to re-acquire the firm’s permission to add games to the service’s paid trial. It’s thought that Bethesda removed its games for similar reasons.
It’s also thought that one of the big reasons game developers have pulled their games is due to a lack of revenue split or that the developers and publishers cannot charge players a second time for an additional copy of the game, particularly since users can transfer copies of pre-purchased games to the service. Google Stadia, meanwhile, requires you to purchase copies of each game, no matter if you’ve already bought it via Steam or other platforms.
The main issue, as described above, is that Nvidia has failed to acquire permission from developers to provide their games on the service. This has led to a polarizing discussion in which many argue for the game developer and others for the customer. But why is there such a fuss over licenses and permissions?
Well, when you purchase a physical game, you essentially own it and can lend it to friends or sell it on. When you purchase a digital game, you’re actually only acquiring a license to play it, and the license means no other company that redistribute said game. This is why Nvidia’s cloud service has been kicking up a fuss. Nvidia’s is providing you with a rented virtual machine and then redistributing a digital game sold purchased from another company. When this happens, the game developers lose out since their games are instantly made available via the service.
What Does Nvidia Say?
Nvidia shared a statement in a blog post last month addressing the controversy. They wrote: “As we approach a paid service, some publishers may choose to remove games before the trial period ends. Ultimately, they maintain control over their content and decide whether the game you purchase includes streaming on GeForce Now.”
The firm claimed that they expect more games to be removed from the service and acknowledges their decision to do so. However, many gamers have criticised developers’ decision to remove their games from the surface, claiming it to be anti-consumer to force customers to purchase a game more than once just to take advantage of the cloud service.
In fact, many have argued that it’s much more consumer-friendly to allow customers to purchase games once and then play it however they like. Still, it seems developers and publishers are worried about losing control over their properties since their success is determined by how many copies of their video games they can sell.
The Future Of Cloud Gaming
Although the service has been enshrouded in controversy, many believe that cloud platforms and services such as Nvidia’s may be the future of gaming. Cloud gaming allows users to play any games on a select platform.
Currently, Nvidia’s GeForce Now isn’t the only cloud gaming service available on the market as Sony has its PlayStation Now service which allows users to stream and download PS2, PS3, and PS4 games. Microsoft is, at the time of writing, working on its own cloud service known as Project xCloud. Little is known about Microsoft’s platform other than it allowing users to stream games to their PC or console and its eventual 2020 release date.
What’s more, Google is tackling the cloud gaming industry with its recently launched Stadia service. The platform launched last December and allows customers to stream a variety of games in up to 4K definition. Unfortunately, all of the cloud gaming services have been met with issues as users struggle to maintain a consistent framerate and face lag which makes it difficult for customers to play games.
If Sony, Microsoft, Google, and Nvidia can fix these issues and strike agreements with game developers and publishers regarding licensing, cloud streaming could very well become a prominent part of the gaming industry and potentially even shape the upcoming console generations. Who knows, in several years the gaming industry may rely completely on cloud streaming and consoles may no longer even be around. Until then, Nvidia and other services have a lot to address and work on.
Image credit: Nvidia
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