Activision Blizzard have pulled all their games from the GeForce Now game streaming service, according to Nvidia. The service only launched in full last week, after two years in beta, and now none of its subscribers will be able to use it to play Blizzard's games. Sekiro will be missed, for one, as will Overwatch, and the Call Of Duty games. Nobody really wins here.
GeForce Now is Nvidia's new entry in the still experimental "cloud gaming" scene. It allows players to access and play games they own using Nvidia's own remote hardware, and streaming the results back over their internet connection. This bypasses the need for a fancy computer of your own, although obviously a good connection is necessary. You also don't need to pay beyond the subscription cost (currently £60 per year) and can play any game you own, but only if Geforce Now supports it. Which Blizzard have just opted out of.
Nvidia staff member Cory broke the news last night: "Per their request, please be advised Activision Blizzard games will be removed from the service. While unfortunate, we hope to work together with Activision Blizzard to reenable these games and more in the future."
Quite why Activision Blizzard have pulled their games is anyone's guess, and it's not clear whether this is a permanent decision. But it's a blow for both parties, and sure to frustrate and disappoint the very players who were already willing to take a punt on a relatively new idea.
Cory stressed that the service still has "hundreds of games currently supported", and "over 1,500 games that developers have asked to be on-boarded to the service. Look for weekly updates as to new games we are adding". Many of Steam's most-played games are still playable through GeForce Now, for example, including CS:GO, Dota 2, Plunkbat, and even Destiny 2, which was formerly published by Blizzard but was bought back by its developers Bungie last year. But there are notable absences too, particularly Grand Theft Auto V and Monster Hunter: World, both of which were available when the service was in beta.
It's hard to get a precise read on GeForce Now's catalogue, since they're not all listed in one place, and have to be searched for individually instead (you can do that on their site). Just yesterday, our mighty hardware samurai Katharine noted this in her breakdown of game streaming services. Its particularly awkward and confusing app was her only major complaint about the service, but she assured us that it otherwise works about as well as its competitors once you're actually in game.
Long ago, I had a job where I got to pore over a lot of television broadcasting contracts. Licensing and distribution issues often lead to these situations that are frustratingly opaque for viewers/players, but have a reasonable and innocent explanation behind the scenes that you just can't really talk about in public. That doesn't necessarily mean the solution will be simple or timely, though.