Last week, Activision Blizzard's games mysteriously vanished from Nvidia's new streaming service. Well, you can put down your pipes and deerstalkers, detectives. Nvidia's come clean. There was some sort of misunderstanding, see, and it looks like the hardware firm forgot to get all the paperwork in order before putting the publishers' catalogue on GeForce Now.
GeForce Now is Nvidia's take on hot new cloud streaming services like Google Stadia. The idea is that, if you own a game supported by GeForce Now and have a stable enough internet connection, you can play it wherever you please - letting Nvidia's remote hardware do the heavy lifting. Kat had a bash in her cloud streaming rundown and thought it worked well enough, even if it was rather fussy about detecting games wot you own.
Here's the problem. As reported by Bloomberg, ActiBlizzion were happy to take part in a beta testing period for GeForce Now. Nvidia believed that this agreement included the initial 90-day trial period offered to early adopters ("Founders"). Activision Blizzard never agreed to that, and wanted a commercial agreement sorted out before hopping on board with GeForce Now's full release.
With that in mind, Activision Blizzard decided to pull their catalogue before moving any further.
That agreement is core to a deeper confusion between Nvidia and publishers. See, The Verge notes that it isn't in Nvidia's cards to sign commercial agreements with every last publisher. Unlike Stadia, they aren't selling games themselves - instead, relying on folks buying their own games on whatever platform they like (Steam, Battle.net, Epic Launcher and the like). Publishers get to sell their games as usual, and GeForce Now gets to buff up its roster. That's the plan, at least.
For whatever reason, Nvidia's model seems to have left some publishers feeling cold. Firms like Capcom, Konami, Rockstar, and Square Enix already pulled their games ahead of launch, despite taking part in the GeForce Now Beta. ActiBlizzion were simply left a little late, leading to a tentative few days of "will it, won't it" before cutting ties.
In a statement, Nvidia seem optimistic that they'll find a way to get ActiBlizzion's games back on the menu.
“Activision Blizzard has been a fantastic partner during the GeForce Now beta, which we took to include the free trial period for our founders' membership. Recognizing the misunderstanding, we removed their games from our service, with hope we can work with them to re-enable these, and more, in the future.”
GeForce Now's Phil Eisler told The Verge that right now, many publishers are simply "taking a while to make up their minds". But if Nvidia can't get nervous distributors on board soon, GeForce Now's promise of letting you stream your own games may quickly be undone.