Nvidia’s GeForce Now game streaming platform has been through the wars since it launched in February. Several notable publishers have already pulled their games from the service, and now Warner Bros., Codemasters, Xbox Game Studios and Klei Entertainment titles are also being removed this week on Friday 24th April.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom, as the company can also say that Ubisoft now “fully supports” GeForce Now, with the addition of Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry series and more Ubisoft games coming in the next few weeks.
It’s a notable, but not unsurprising shake up, as Nvidia look to monetise their service. Up until this point, all gameplay has been completely free, whether it’s using the basic free tier, or signing up to the Founders package that includes a 90 day free trial. Nvidia’s blog post touts that 30 of the top 40 most-played games on Steam are a part of the GeForce Now library, but it’s also quite candid in saying that “While some [publishers] are still evaluating their cloud strategy, most are incredibly supportive.” There’s also a very resigned sounding “We hope they’ll return in the future.”
You simply have to look to other game streaming services to understand what’s going on. It’s not clear whether publishers are simply letting agreements expire or if they’re more actively pursuing exits, but Codemasters are fairly invested in Google Stadia with the exclusive game modes in racing game GRID, while Microsoft are gearing up for the wider launch of their own game streaming service in Project xCloud. There’s certainly some conflicting interests there.
Of course, Ubisoft is also on Stadia, and in a big way, they just don’t really seem that fussed about how they get their games into players’ hands. Chris Early, senior vice president partnerships at Ubisoft said, “We believe it’s a leading-edge service that gives current and new PC players a high-end experience with more choice in how and where they play their favorite games.” Meanwhile, over on Stadia, their games like Ghost Recon: Breakpoint have Stadia exclusive squad cam features, pushing the boundaries of what streamed gaming can do.
Nvidia are pitching themselves as something additive, letting existing players play in a more flexible fashion, while also potentially opening the doors to a new audience.
The future of the platform really depends on publishers coming around to seeing it in a similar fashion, but it’s also no real surprise that we’re seeing some kinds of platform rivalries playing out behind the scenes. There’s a kind of comfort to Stadia’s very traditional business model of buying a game on Stadia and Stadia alone, while GeForce Now breaks down some of those barriers and taps into PC libraries.
Their story will be very interesting to follow over the next few years.