Honestly, I haven’t heard of GeForce Now until very recently, once Activision/Blizzard pulled their games from the platform following the service’s progression from a beta to release. On paper, the idea is sound; the customer can play the games they own, while using Nvidia virtual machines to enjoy the benefits of powerful hardware. Depending on the membership tier you choose, you can play for free for up to hour-long sessions after a short wait to begin, or you can pay for a membership which gives you priority access to the servers, along with the ability to play with RTX features enabled in specific games.

That last bit is perhaps the most enticing part, as some of the games like Metro Exodus or Deliver Us The Moon can be played using Nvidia’s service with said RTX features enabled. After all, while streaming can be useful to those with monster gaming rigs who want to game on the go on mobile devices or less-capable laptops, it’s also a way for folks who have a more modest gaming setup to enjoy all the bells and whistles without needing to shell out a fist-full of cash to upgrade their system.

Of course, the performance of the service is heavily dependent on the user’s connection speed, but that isn’t really what I started writing this to discuss.

The real question is, does Nvidia have the right to include games on their service without compensating the developers and/or publishers of those games?

Quite The Quandry

GeForce Now

Who should determine who can add games to the platform?

Here is where I feel personally torn. First, one of the major points is that Nvidia isn’t the one selling these games, or offering them up as part of the subscription service itself. This isn’t so much a “Netflix of games”, but rather a virtualized PC environment where you can play games you already own.

I was curious to see how this works, so I downloaded and installed the client on my computer to see for myself. Out of curiosity, I picked Metro Exodus, a game I do not own on Steam, to see if it would let me play it. Alas, upon signing in on Steam through GeForce Now, it only prompted me to purchase the game. Based on first appearances, I realize that the way I’m actually accessing my games is just by signing on to my Steam account on the virtual machine; I’m just remoting in. So no, Nvidia isn’t making it so I can play games without paying for them first, and it’s unclear if pirating the game would even work (I’m not going to try that though).

So my next course of action was to try something I do own, so I chose Insurgency: Sandstorm, which is a relatively demanding title compared to some of the others, and one of only a few I actually own. I was 12th in line behind other gamers, so I had a minor wait to gain access, but within a matter of minutes I was ready to go. After “installing” the game on the virtual machine, I was playing.

What makes this interesting, is that I never could play a game I hadn’t already purchased, and purchasing made through the service would’ve been done through the Steam or Epic Games stores themselves. I don’t believe that Nvidia is somehow collecting a cut from any purchases, nor do I see how they could do so in the first place. From what I can tell though, the developers and publishers already made their money from me, and Nvidia is just offering me another way to play my games.

Still, it’s a bit of a sticky situation, because game companies are beginning to follow in Activision/Blizzard’s footsteps and asking to have their games removed from the streaming service.

In essence, I’m borrowing a computer to play my games, so I’m left wondering why that’s wrong. In my mind, I see it no different than if I were to rent a PC to play something, and not even something I don’t own already; I’m still logging in using my Steam or Epic accounts to play my own games. In my mind, it isn’t like Bungie would get a cut of the sales from me purchasing a new computer to play Destiny 2, so I feel I must be missing something.

GeForce Now Memberships

Maybe they want a portion of that $5+ a month?

There are only two things I can think of that would influence a developer or publisher to want to have their game(s) pulled from GeForce Now:

  1. They want a cut
  2. They want to be asked first

The first reason is understandable, though a little weird considering that GeForce Now only allows users to play games they already own. The developer and publisher already got their money, so what makes them think that they deserve more from the customer’s wallet? The game dev didn’t help develop the infrastructure to make the game run on the service. They didn’t subsidize the cost of the service to help make it possible. This isn’t even the same as Netflix, or even YouTube. Nvidia isn’t selling games, they’re renting out virtual hardware.

The alternative of course is that game companies may just want to be asked if they’d be willing to add their games to the service, and while I can understand this sentiment, I don’t know why it’s so heinous if a customer installs a game they own on a virtual machine, when nobody else will be able to access that same game (barring some truly labyrinthine means to accomplish this).

Personal Opinions

I do understand that developers and publishers would want to be asked before their games became part of the GeForce Now service, but I don’t know how their games being available there is a bad thing. I really don’t believe that game companies should receive a portion of the subscription revenue for their customers playing on the service, any more than they should expect to receive a cut of every PS5 or Xbox Series X sold when they release.

Nvidia should have asked, but the game companies pulling their games off the service should closely examine why they’re doing so, because it’s difficult to come back to play once you’ve already taken your ball and gone home.

What are your thoughts on this? Should Nvidia be paying for licensing on games they don’t distribute? Do they need to ask before allowing customers to install their own games on a GeForce Now virtual machine?

Posted by Shelby "Falcon509" Steiner

I'm just a gamer that enjoys talking about my hobbies. I do a little more than that too. I love cooking, grilling, being outdoors, going target shooting, etc.

10 Comments

  1. Nvidia shouldn’t pay a dime for something they invented. We’re not buying games from an Nvidia storefront and streaming them. We’re streaming games we already own on a service that would allow us to play the game we purchased in a different way and the way I see it is that we should absolutely have that right since we BOUGHT the game with our own cash.

    Nvidia could ask, sure, but why? They’re not doing anything with developers’ games. They’re just offering us a different way to experience our games and for people out there with old hardware, this would be a really, really good thing. I think it all comes down to money, but that’s just my opinion. I was planning on writing something about this too, but I want to research it a bit more before I decide to do anything or not.

    Great article dude.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    1. Thanks for reading!

      I agree with you almost completely, except one thing. As far as I can tell, Nvidia hasn’t blocked any games from being available on the service other than those which have been manually removed. I’ll need to verify this to be completely sure.

      As for Nvidia asking for permission, it would be a courtesy, but I don’t think they necessarily need to ask. Additionally, I don’t think there would even be a legal requirement to take games down either. They could honestly just tell developers and publishers “No”. I really think they’re removing games as a courtesy to those companies.

      I may not be a lawyer, but I don’t know of any precedent that would make a court side against Nvidia on this.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

    2. So I actually tried to launch a game when logged in on the Steam client through GeForce Now, and it wouldn’t let me launch a game that I didn’t choose in the GeForce Now service before connecting.

      So it looks like games were added, but not necessarily with the developers’/publishers’ knowledge. One thing is clear however, it isn’t like every game was added.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

      1. I honestly feel like the developers want some cash for this service. Then they would be good with letting Nvidia add their games it. I look at it as a consumer. I bought something from a store and I should have every right to play it anyway I choose. I don’t see the issue here.

        I might try the service just to write about it and give a proper opinion. I just have to be careful with my funds right now since we’re moving on the 7th.

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply

        1. I just did the free version of it. It works rather well.

          I’m inclined to agree with you that game companies are trying to find out how they can profit from the service somehow. I can sorta understand how they would want to be asked to have their game be on the service, but it seems less like that, and more like they just want a cut.

          Liked by 1 person

          Reply

          1. I can understand them wanting Nvidia to ask them for permission, but I highly doubt that’s why they’re demanding Nvidia to pull their games from the service. They want some cash and they’re mad that they can’t get any.

            I’ll try out the free version. To make things interesting I’ll try it out on my wife’s old laptop :-).

            Liked by 1 person

            Reply

            1. I would definitely recommend connecting over an Ethernet connection if you’re going to try it out. I run my PC wired, and it is fantastic.

              Liked by 1 person

              Reply

              1. Same. My desktop is always wired. I’ll unplug it and try out my wife’s ancient laptop.

                Liked by 1 person

                Reply

  2. I like the concept behind it and it’s another option for gamers but I wonder if there could be EULAs that make this a little suspect because Nvidia is a third party that’s accessing your games? Maybe Stadia, PS Now, xCloud (in future), etc would be OK because you’re playing the games from the place you bought them from?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    1. I think it mostly comes down to what it means to infringe on copyright, and if offering a paid service that rents hardware to users for them to play the games they own is violating those laws. With all those other services, the platforms are either paying licensing fees to the game makers to host them on their platform, or the developer/publisher have agreed to sell software on the platform in exchange for a cut of profits for games played or sold there.

      GeForce Now is different because no money is changing hands for the games themselves, just the platform. It’s an entirely different situation compared to what we’ve seen before.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.