Nvidia locks down bundle games to block trades, sales

February 3, 2017 // 11:11 a.m.

Tags: #bundle #digital-rights #drm #game-bundle #geforce #geforce-experience

Companies: #nvidia

Nvidia has moved to stop its customers giving away or selling bundled games, adding technological measures to back up its existing terms and conditions forbidding such activity.

When you buy a high-end graphics card, it's usual to get a game or two thrown your way by way of reward. For the graphics card manufacturers, it's a way to differentiate themselves from the competition and piggyback on popular game launches; for the game publishers, a means of increasing units sold at zero effort - albeit at a lower profit than retail would bring. For some customers, though, the bundled games aren't a mere bonus but a discount waiting to happen: Game codes are frequently split out from the hardware with which they were supplied and traded or sold for a profit, especially in the cases of buyers picking up multiple GPUs for an SLI/CrossFire setup - because who needs three copies of a game?

Previously, both AMD and Nvidia have largely turned a blind eye to such activity: It's expressly forbidden in the terms and conditions of the offer, but it's a rule that has never been enforced - up to now. From now onwards, Nvidia is taking the lead by introducing technological limitations designed to block the sale or trade of bundled game codes.

The limitations work in two ways. The first is that redeeming and installing a game code will require the user to have the GeForce Experience software installed and running. The second, and more onerous requirement, is that the person doing the redeeming will need to have a graphics card equal to or better than the one with which the game was bundled. In other words: If a game comes bundled with a GeForce GTX 1070 GPU, you'll have to have a GeForce GTX 1070 GPU or better in your system.

The new rules also introduce a few wrinkles for those who were never planning to sell the codes in the first place. Redemption must take place in the same region as the purchase, which could spell trouble for grey imports or frequent travellers, and anyone hoping to take the game they got with a shiny new desktop graphics card and install it on their laptop or older desktop instead will be prevented by the hardware lock - though it may still be possible for some titles to be redeemed on one device before being installed on another without hitting the hardware lock.

The first games to be locked down using the new system, Nvidia has confirmed, are For Honor and Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands; buyers of a GeForce GTX 1070 or GTX 1080 are currently offered the choice of one from the two with their purchase. Full details of how the restrictions work can be found on Nvidia's official website.
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