Since the surprise arrival of GeForce NOW a few weeks ago, the game streaming services has been through quite the roller coaster. From high-praise and a very open-armed welcome to some game studios flexing their right to pull down games, it’s been a mix of good and bad for NVIDIA so far on this front. However, it seems the overwhelming majority of gamers are still hanging around to see how it all shakes out in the end.
First up, we have to mention that GeForce NOW has already surpassed the million user mark just weeks into its official unveiling. Sure, the whole thing has been in a beta status for years, but it seems it was all worth the wait as NVIDIA has officially stated that as of Feburary 20, 2020, the service has signed up more than one million users. ONE MILLION users in just weeks! That’s an impressive feat regardless of who you are, so it seems that gamers are very willing to give streaming game services a chance if the barrier to entry is low enough.
On top of this, NVIDIA has also locked up the arrival of one of 2020’s most-anticipated titles – Cyberpunk 2077 – and will have the game ready for your streaming pleasure the day it launches. With a whopping 1500 games currently available and a built-in, engaged player base, it would appear that NVIDIA is riding high with no issues. That, however, wouldn’t be the entire story.
Instead, we have to talk about the licensing mess that has already come up with studios like Activision Blizzard and Bethesda. Citing end-user licensing agreements, both studios have pulled some pretty big titles from GeForce NOW and, while I suppose there’s some legalities to navigate, the whole thing feels silly. With GeForce NOW, users are allowed to play games they already own on other platforms and are simply playing them on a server instead of a tower in their home. The question is, who cares? If I still have to buy the game to play it in the end and that play is tied to my account only, what difference does it make where I do so?
I’m no lawyer and I’m certainly not a game executive, but the whole situation feels childish. With Activision Blizzard, NVIDIA has stated the whole mix up is a miscommunication, so there could be a reinstatement of games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Overwatch, and Diablo 3 if they can get things straightened out. Agreements that were in place previously were apparently only good while the service was in beta, but now that it is out in the real world, those same licensing agreements don’t carry over.
The situation seems to be the same with Bethesda as they are pulling big titles from GeForce NOW including heavy-hitters like Fallout, The Elder Scrolls and Doom. Without much more clarifying detail available, NVIDIA has simple said via a blog post:
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. Meanwhile, others will bring games back as they continue to realize GeForce NOW’s value
Trials and hiccups like this will likely be a part of cloud gaming for a bit, but it seems GeForce NOW could be in a unique position to have to deal with them more than others since it isn’t a platform in-and-of itself. Services like Stadia, xCloud, and Playstation Now are full-blown platforms that likely have licensing agreements in place to cover themselves whether the user is gaming on a console or via cloud servers.
I’m very hopeful NVIDIA can wade successfully through these waters as it is clear from both our coverage of GeForce NOW and the high adoption that this is a service worth having around. Again, I’m no legal expert, but I can’t imagine things can’t be worked out in a way that allows casual gamers like myself to get in on the action with AAA game titles. After all, it seems the studios behind the 1500 available games (which include big ones like Fortnite, PUBG, and Cyberpunk 2077) available on GeForce NOW have done so already without much fanfare.
I understand pulling things down until the ship is righted – I do – but in the end, there’s simply no good reason for studios to cut off players that likely won’t ever play their game otherwise. As one of those casual users, I can say with certainty that GeForce NOW may be the only place I would give a game like Fallout a chance. I clearly am not in the market for a console or gaming rig. By removing their software from NVIDIA’s service, they’ve simply lost me as a customer. It doesn’t make much sense when you look at it like that, does it?