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Bethesda pulls games from GeForce Now, more publishers may follow

But Nvidia promises new games will be added every week as trial period comes to an end

Bethesda Softworks has also opted to remove its games from Nvidia's streaming service GeForce Now.

The removal was announced on the Nvidia forums by community manager Cory Banks, who noted that Wolfenstein Youngblood would still be compatible with GeForce Now.

The news follows Activision Blizzard's decision to pull its catalogue from the streaming service just one week after launch. An Nvidia spokesperson later explained that their inclusion had been a "misunderstanding," believing the publisher's participation in the trial to extend to the full service.

On the Nvidia blog, general manager Phil Eisler noted that Bethesda may not be the last publisher to withdraw from GeForce Now.

"As we approach a paid service, some publishers may choose to remove games before the trial period ends," he wrote. "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 realise GeForce Now's value. Stay tuned for more on that.

"As the transition period comes to completion, game removals should be few and far between, with new games added to GeForce Now each week."

Unlike rival streaming service Google Stadia, GeForce Now isn't quite a platform in its own right. Instead, players can purchase compatible games via marketplaces such as Steam and subscribe to GeForce Now for the option to play them via streaming.

As with the Activision announcement, complaints on the Bethesda forum post reveal that some players purchased games purely for use via GeForce Now, lacking the necessary hardware to run these games natively.

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Latest comments (3)

James Prendergast Research Chemist 4 months ago
I'm very much confused as to the legalities surrounding these moves. Did I miss an article from GI detailing this? As far as I can see, no current EULA disallows the personal use of any license purchased on hardware owned by the licensee - that includes vitualised instances. The important aspects are plurality (multiple instances) and third party software interfaces (cracks/cheats).

For all intents and purposes, Geforce now is an "owned" (read: paid for by the user) virtualised instance. Sure, Geforce are playing nice with the publishers, "allowing" them to exert control over how their licensees access their paid-for content but there's no legal basis for them to do so other than not pissing off their collaborators.

There is effectively zero logical difference between in-home streaming of game content and streaming of game content from a server farm. This whole debacle makes no sense and only paints the publishers as petulant obstructionists.

Are in-home streaming options now illegal? Does Steam pay for the privilege of allowing users to stream from their desktop to a TV via their in-home wiring? Will we see changes to the common EULA to reflect this limitation?

Honestly, I'd love GI to do some proper in-depth reporting on this issue.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Prendergast on 24th February 2020 7:11pm

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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 4 months ago
I offer this line of argument:

Publishers have become accustomed to having an unprecedented level of control over their product. They are used to making you sign in online, they are used to having utterly removed any ability to resell a game on PC, they can essentially ban you from entering a game without you getting the money back while being judge, jury and executioner on your alleged infractions. Plus they control your save game, your data and behavioral pattern analysis.

At the same time, Microsoft, EA and Ubisoft have set out to shift to a subscription model in such a way that having a $60 game with a $40 season pass sounds increasingly outdated. Especially a company such as Bethesda is on very thin ice, since their games are still monetized heavily and individually. Pay monthly for Fallout, or pay for the entirety of the Ubisoft lineup? Talk about fringe potential vs. mainstream potential, this is it.

That does not mean EA, Ubisoft and Microsoft have the intention to not milk you for all your money. They will still do, the main angle being microtransactions on top of subscriptions. Further options to upsell your subscription are being considered right this moment.

The most apparent option for a room full of Starbuck's fueled suits being no doubt the 'on the go' label everybody noticed on their cup wile giving the conference desk a good round of the thousand mile stare.

Naturally, to implement that plan, you need a white label product to turn into Bethesda On the Go - Fantastic Streaming Online. However, there isn't a white label video game streaming product.

Microsoft and Sony have their streaming service, but it will be, no doubt, just the next luxury which the publisher is being charged for by a console platform holder. If Nvidia offers their virtual PC renting service, Bethesda has nothing to gain from it on top of their original sale. Make no mistake, it is all about making something on top of that original sale. Why concede money to Nvidia for their audacity to fix an issue the user has with a Bethesda product (i.e. Hardware Requirements). Why not rent from Nvidia white label and charge the user three times that? That is the desire for control that lead us to the things mentioned in the first paragraph. We should not assume this desire to be gone.

From the standpoint of legality of virtualization and use of software in a virtualized environment, neither Activision, nor Bethesda have much going for them really. But from the perspective of an alleged future business model, some companies just do not want to create a precedent that hedges the expectations of their users. Bethesda probably does not want to end up at the point at which users expect them to be present on certain streaming platforms. Because if streaming platforms notice that, they will charge Bethesda for it, no doubt. Hence what we see now, is the start of a tug of war between publishers and streaming providers on how the streaming product is being marketed. Either with publishers in control rebranding somebody's streaming solution as their own, or with streaming brands in control playing publishers against each other to pad their portfolio. Microtransaction made while user was streaming, that would be 30% then and other shenanigans by Google, Nvidia et. al.

Bethesda has no chance in hell to make demands with Sony, Microsoft or Google. That must sting, if I alledge future plans of a streaming subscription on top of the catalogue access subscription. So what better way to prove that you have not lost control than to do a gesture of granstanding. Nvidia might look past that, but at the end of the day, Bethesda cannot expect concessions either.

Meanwhile, the entire ordeal with subscriptions is decided by the amount of content which publishers are able to produce reliably and at a good enough standard. From that angle, Bethesda and Activision/Blizzard are not in the best of positions. Even if Nvidia were considering white label offerings to publishers, they would build the good relations elsewhere and for the moment stick to not burning bridges. That is their reaction to Activision and Bethesda in a nutshell, even if Nvdia could very much rent out virtual PCs on which users install whatever they want without impunity.
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 4 months ago
Hi Klaus, thanks for that take. I do think the following is a flawed logic (if that's what the publishers are thinking):
If Nvidia offers their virtual PC renting service, Bethesda has nothing to gain from it on top of their original sale. Make no mistake, it is all about making something on top of that original sale. Why concede money to Nvidia for their audacity to fix an issue the user has with a Bethesda product (i.e. Hardware Requirements). Why not rent from Nvidia white label and charge the user three times that? That is the desire for control that lead us to the things mentioned in the first paragraph. We should not assume this desire to be gone.
First off, the publishers lose no money on the NVidia model in comparison with other streaming models were they will likely have lower income. The consumer still buys the game and the DLC/mtx. So that argument doesn't wash, especially because any publisher/developer will be able to reach a wider audience that could purchase and run the game when they don't meet the hardware requirements.

Further to that, it absolutely is a bonus that the consumer is not spending money on hardware. It's actually not that cheap to build (or god forbid, buy) a gaming PC right now. I did a recent calculation compared to the last complete build I did in 2009-2010 and I'd be spending around /300 more just for a similar level of bottom tier performance. My purchasing power didn't increase in equal proportion during that time. That's /500-700 for the consumer to spend on other activities - some of which will be distributed to gaming entertainment.

Ironically, the low price of Geforce Now at 5(?) a month is a huge bonus - that's 100-140 months of gaming instead of investing in hardware that would not even reach the power levels of the shared resources on a single Geforce Now server (a mid-high equivalent of a 4 core i5 and a cut-down RTX 2080).

But, yes, you're right - this might be publishers using Geforce Now as a piece in the game against streaming services. They can point to the service and say, "Look at this, we can - and will - cripple you if we don't get what we want...".

Which, quite frankly is completely anti-consumer and makes for poor business relationships as well. I don't remember... how did acting like that work out for the music publishers?
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