There’s such a thing as a for-profit industry’s desire to maximize revenues while acting with foresight and without alienating its customers – and then there’s the game developing and publishing industry, where some prominent members have embraced almost cartoonish levels of corporate villainy.
Profit at any and every cost, and pure greed as a quality and a virtue – that’s what it all seems to boil down to.
At the center is Nvidia’s GeForce Now, a service that promises to instantly transform “nearly any laptop, desktop, Mac, SHIELD TV or Android mobile device” into a PC gaming rig.
And unlike its largely disappointing competitor Stadia, GeForce Now lets gamers who buy games on Steam put them on Nvidia’s virtual machine and play using its cloud gaming infrastructure.
If someone were to spin up a server in the cloud, and log in to Steam from it, they’d be able to play their games easily without any need to ask permission or buy an additional license. They can play their own games on any PC they can get Steam on – so why should it be any different whether the PC is a local one or a cloud-based one?
But gaming giants – and even some independent studios – are now one-by-one pulling their games from the service, some giving confusing explanations that don’t seem to add up, while others, like Blizzard, don’t even feel the need to say why.
The Long Dark creator Raphael van Lierop took to Twitter to announce their reason for blocking users from playing the game through GeForce Now’s servers.
“Nvidia didn’t ask for our permission,” the shocking statement reads.
May I have your permission to uninstall The Long Dark from my old PC and reinstall it to my new PC?
— 🕶🤣coolfather🤔👀 (@JigenD) March 2, 2020
Honest questions: what is your response to those who say they have purchased your game through Steam and simply choose to play it through GFN? Do you feel Nvidia should be paying studios cash to have their games on GFN? Do you have a pending deal with another stream platform?
— Skill Up (@SkillUpYT) March 2, 2020
But the logical conclusion many are reaching is that GeForce Now is being undermined because publishers and developers want gamers to pay twice for the same game – once when they actually buy the license, and then again, just in order to be able to play it on what’s to all intents and purposes just a virtual cloud-based PC.
At the same time, the game industry wants to have the last word on the hardware gamers are allowed to use when they play their games.
Some of the arguments made in the press on behalf of the industry say that developers haven’t been asked for permission for their games to be played using GeForce Now, while others say they’re not even aware this is happening.
But there’s really no obvious problem with any of that, because the service literally provides just another way for a consumer who has already paid for the game to play it. This time, on a virtual machine provided by Nvidia, while still logged into their Steam account.
And while the case for game publishers is weak here, the trend is unmistakable – to disenfranchise the customer and take as much of their money as possible.