GeForce NOW isn’t just competing with Google – it’s battling publishers too

Nvidia GeForce NOW

GeForce NOW, NVIDIA’s cloud streaming game platform, has now been publicly available for almost a month.

In that time, most reviewers have had better things to say about the service than its obvious competitor, Google Stadia. Indeed, GeForce NOW seemed to be more consumer-friendly and with better features. However, the last few weeks have shown that it now faces a battle with game publishers who don’t want the service to be so consumer-friendly.

Major Publishers Have Already Pulled Games from GeForce Now

In the last two weeks, first Activision and then Bethesda pulled support from their games from GeForce NOW. During the trial period, while the service was free, their games were available on the platform. However, both publishers have now reversed that decision. Given that GeForce NOW is generally better-reviewed than Google Stadia, one would think that publishers would prefer to have their games be available on the platform. However, there is one feature with GeForce NOW offers which those publishers disagree with. Namely, GeForce NOW allows users to play games they already own on other platforms through the service.

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Nominally, this feature is very consumer-friendly. After all, it means that PC gamers with extensive Steam libraries don’t have to buy all their games a second time just to play them through GeForce NOW. Unfortunately, this appears to be precisely the problem. This feature means that gamers won’t need to buy another copy of Skyrim, for instance, if they want to learn how to craft the best Skyrim alchemy recipes on GeForce NOW. Presumably, publishers like Activision and Bethesda would prefer that players are forced to buy another copy of their games (as they have to on Google Stadia), so that they continue to make more money from game sales.

While this doesn’t seem to represent the view of every publisher (CD Projekt Red notably seem committed to remain, having announced that Cyberpunk 2077 will be available on the platform at launch), the loss of two major game libraries so quickly after release is a big blow to GeForce NOW. It will be particularly serious if other publishers start to follow suit. As a result, NVIDIA is facing a battle to convince publishers to either remain or return to the platform. That will either mean abandoning their consumer-friendly policy (likely to be very unpopular among users) or needing to find other incentives to offer publishers. For now, it remains to be seen which way the company will go. However, the future of GeForce NOW is still very much in flux, as the service tries to offer gamers a better alternative to Google Stadia.