NVIDIA cancels it’s “Geforce Partner Program” and why it’s a win for gamers? by FIR35TORM!

As of last Friday, NVIDIA released a blog that they are pulling the plug on GPP due to “rumours, conjecture and mistruth” and decided not to battle with the misinformation after a wide community backlash that was ignited from a report back at March.

According to NVIDIA, GPP was initially created for its partners to allow them to gain early access and support on engineering samples, funding for marketing material, discounts for its GPUs and more. Now on the surface, this appears to be a great program to jump onboard as a partner and would help gamers have the confidence on their next purchase. However.

A couple of months ago, Kyle Bennett from HardOCP has made some exposing claims of the intentional impact of GPP to the industry and how it will affect we (the consumers) see NVIDIA’s and its competitors’ products.

As quoted from the article:

“The crux of the issue with NVIDIA GPP comes down to a single requirement in order to be part of GPP. In order to have access to the GPP program, its partners must have its “Gaming Brand Aligned Exclusively With GeForce.” I have read documents with this requirement spelled out on it.”

What this means that any partner can join into the program, but they will have to brand their gaming division GPUs exclusively with NVIDIA graphics cards. They can refuse to join but, they will miss out the huge benefits from NVIDIA and that can be detrimental to the partner which with the majority in the industry, could not afford to do.

This allegation was initially taken with a grain of salt but as time passed and with more evidence appearing from other new sources, this controversial program quickly came the hot topic in the industry.

Now keep in mind that this was a very difficult topic to research on due to the large percentage of partners and representatives refusing to answer or keeping it behind closed doors but I what can say, GPP has already made an impact to its partners despite its short-lived existence. So, let’s take a quick history lesson of how this story unfold.

How did GPP affected its partners?

The first to fall under the new GPP was MSI & GIGABYTE with MSI removing all AMD products under the MSI Gaming brand. At the time of this article, you won’t find any AMD products with the ‘Gaming’ moniker.

What remains with MSI AMD GPU products are reference and MSI ‘Armor’ versions of the 500 series and Vegas. I did recall that there was AMD cards under the MSI ‘Gaming’ brand so after a quick google search, I managed to find a product page for an MSI Radeon RX 580 ‘Gaming’ X 8GB Graphics card.

This alone won’t give any definite evidence as this may have been an old product and was discontinued before the allegations started but on a GIGABYTE product page, this shows some concrete proof of GPP having an effect to its partners.

This is just a search in GIGABYTE’s website of their external GPU enclosures (for underpower notebooks with Thunderbolt 3 connectivity to achieve desktop-class gaming) and the truth could not be any more apparent. According to a Forbes article, GIGABYTE had previously released 2 external GPU enclosures under the AORUS gaming brand and at the time of article’s release, GIGABYTE recently listed a RX 580 Gaming Box without any AORUS branding. Although these findings are strong, things have taken a dire turn…

In the first week of April, ASUS decided to take a further to work around the GPP and not only it removed all of AMD’s GPU products from its ‘Republic of Gamers’ brand but created a whole new sub-division called ‘AREZ’ just to carry AMD’s products, like the product shown above.

So why is this important?

Personally, I don’t expect any of the younger and/or naïve audience to completely understand or are aware of the possible impact for when we choose our next gaming product because it’s important on the products we buy, either with NVIDIA, AMD or any other brand, that it will be a capable product for our needs on gaming.

On a personal note, I too have bought NVIDIA GPUs over the years and have enjoyed the performance increases on each new generation, and I would be a returning customer to NVIDIA, but with GPP, it only places its own products into the spotlight and pushes any competing products away and this is nothing more than an anti-competitive ‘marketing’ practice, and it hurt my confidence with NVIDIA knowing that. I did find NVIDIA’s decision to simply cancel the GPP this soon very unexpected, although I do believe they wouldn’t want to continue this any further because this form of practice has already been done before with Intel.

Years ago, Intel had signed deals to big name computer manufacturers (HP, DELL, etc) by offering rebates of their CPUs, in return, the computer manufacturers must either eliminate or limit purchases of CPUs made by Intel’s competitors, this included AMD.

This was considered a huge anti-competitive practice and in 2009, Intel was fined over $1 billion euros by the EU’s Antitrust Regulation, even though Intel had paid the fine in full, the damage was already done. Intel had taken a dominant position in the market and left AMD at a disadvantage for years to come and I would hate to see this happening again in the GPU market, especially with NVIDIA in a dominant position.

To give you a worst-case scenario, let’s say in the near future, GPP still continued and you were looking for a new graphics card at PLE for some PUBG (or your favourite eSports game) action, in front of you are your only choices for a gaming card. On a prime spot in the middle shelf and spread across your view, you see a range of ‘NVIDIA Gaming graphics cards’ and off to the far side, a comparable range of AMD Graphics Cards. Which one you would more likely to choose?

The NVIDIA card of course! Why? Because it has the word ‘Gaming’ on it and that’s what many people will look out for. As for the brand loyalists, they’d be very familiar of the ROG brand but not to the AREZ range and again, most will buy a NVIDIA graphics card because of their familiarly of ROG.

Sorry to say kids, but that is Marketing 101 working as intended and the major loser in this situation will always be AMD. Not only that will be bad for the competition, but also to everyone involved in some form, including the partners and the consumers.

Thanks to the experienced and notable journalists in the industry, this whole story certainly blown up to some huge proportions with NVIDIA copping all the flak and the real winners in the end of the day are us (the consumers). It wouldn’t be a surprise that they would try and forget that it all happened and be focusing on the next big thing, speaking about that, next-gen GPUs anyone?

Sources:

HardOCP – GeForce Partner Program Impacts Consumer Choice
https://www.hardocp.com/article/2018/03/08/geforce_partner_program_impacts_consumer_choice/

NVIDIA Blog – Pulling the Plug on GPP, Leaning into Geforce
https://blogs.nvidia.com/blog/2018/05/04/gpp/

ASUS – AREZ Strix Radeon RX Vega64 Product Page
https://www.asus.com/Graphics-Cards/AREZ-STRIX-RXVEGA64-O8G-GAMING/

Hot Hardware – NVIDIA Ends GeForce Partner Program Due To Distracting Backlash And Alleged Misinformation
https://hothardware.com/news/nvidia-ends-geforce-partner-program

Forbes – New Clues Suggest MSI And Gigabyte Are Aligned With GeForce Partner Program
https://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonevangelho/2018/03/20/new-clues-suggest-msi-and-gigabyte-are-aligned-with-geforce-partner-program/#2c6d7dc04c6a

MSI – Radeon RX 580 Gaming X 8GB Product Page
https://www.msi.com/Graphics-card/Radeon-RX-580-GAMING-X-8G.html

Wikipedia – Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. v. Intel Corp.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Micro_Devices,_Inc._v._Intel_Corp.

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