When we learned that Nvidia's GeForce Now cloud gaming service lost access to every Activision Blizzard game just a week after leaving beta, I admitted that my first thought was that maybe a nearsighted, greedy company decided to take the ball and go home.
That may still be but it turned out to be a more pressing problem: Nvidia did not get permission to keep its games on GeForce Now after launch
While Nvidia The Verge confirmed that it actually contacted Activision before launch to ask if the giant game company agreed to their games when they paid for the paid version of the service a "misunderstanding" as to whether Activision actually granted this permission.
Here is a statement from Nvidia:
Activision Blizzard was a fantastic partner during the GeForce Now beta, which we used to include the free trial for our founding membership. In recognition of the misunderstanding, we have taken the games out of our service in the hope that we can work with them to reactivate them and others in the future.
However, this reconciliation cannot take place. According to Bloomberg who previously reported the "misunderstanding", Activision Blizzard wanted to negotiate a new trade agreement before Nvidia could offer the games, and Nvidia was fairly certain that its business model was . have no commercial agreements with game publishers. Instead, players should be able to buy their games on existing platforms such as Steam, Epic, UPlay and Battle.net and play them on GeForce Now, just as they would play them on their home PC, and give publishers the same amount of money that they would have usually.
A spokesman for Activision Blizzard tells us that there is no such trade agreement.
In other words, Nvidia should have pulled Activision Blizzard's games before last week's launch, as it was with games from other hesitant publishers like Capcom, Konami, Rockstar, and Square Enix. (At the time, GeForce Now boss Phil Eisler told me that some publishers "take a while to make a decision" so that it is possible for them to come over.)
But because Nvidia didn't originally pull them, We now have two headlines that indicate that services like GeForce Now are only as good as legal distribution agreements allow. You may think you "own" a digital game, but that may not always give you the ability to play it on a computer that you rent in the cloud.
The headline of PCWorld last week reflects my thoughts: "That sucks."
Incidentally, none of this has anything to do with Activision’s recent multi-year partnership with Google. The games are not necessarily sent to Google's Stadia cloud gaming service instead. On the one hand, they have to be ported so that they can be run on Stadia's Linux-based servers. On the other hand, the partnership is about YouTube and Google Cloud, not about stadiums. The company said in its fourth-quarter earnings call that Stadia is not part of the business.