Today, AMD has come out with an official response to NVIDIA's controversial GeForce Partner Program and it's a declaration of all out war. For those out of the loop, the GeForce Partner Program came into the limelight under very peculiar circumstances last month after HardOCP's Kyle Bennett published an investigative report detailing how NVIDIA was allegedly using the GPP effectively as a monopolistic market domination tool.
The program allegedly demanded from PC and graphics card makers the exclusion of AMD from their gaming branded products, essentially cutting NVIDIA's only competitor in this arena from the gaming market. Companies that refuse to be part of the GPP are allegedly put at crippling disadvantages that would render them almost entirely unable to compete. More specifically, they are denied high-effort engineering engagements, early tech engagement, launch partner status, game bundling, sales rebate programs, social media and PR support, marketing reports, and even GPU supply/allocation.
NVIDIA has publicly denied these allegations.
There have been several major developments over the following weeks after the story originally broke, and you can read all about them here. Starting with Gigabyte & MSI removing AMD from their roster of gaming branded graphics cards, to gamers calling for a boycott of NVIDIA and its GPP partners, HP & Dell refusing to join the program, Intel considering legal action against NVIDIA and finally the FTC's and EU Commission's acknowledgement of consumer complaints and calls for an investigation of the GPP.
AMD Calls NVIDIA's GPP "Anti-Gamer" & "Anti-Competitive"
"Our proud pastime of PC gaming has been built on the idea of freedom. Freedom to choose. How to play the game. What to do and when to do it. And specifically, what to play it on. PC gaming has a long, proud tradition of choice. Whether you build and upgrade your own PCs, or order pre-built rigs after you’ve customized every detail online, you know that what you’re playing on is of your own making, based on your freedom to choose the components that you want. Freedom of choice is a staple of PC gaming.
Over the coming weeks, you can expect to see our add-in board partners launch new brands that carry an AMD Radeon product. AMD is pledging to reignite this freedom of choice when gamers choose an AMD Radeon RX graphics card. These brands will share the same values of openness, innovation, and inclusivity that most gamers take to heart. The freedom to tell others in the industry that they won’t be boxed in to choosing proprietary solutions that come bundled with “gamer taxes” just to enjoy great experiences they should rightfully have access to. The freedom to support a brand that actively works to advance the art and science of PC gaming while expanding its reach.
The key values that brands sporting AMD Radeon products will offer are:
• A dedication to open innovation – AMD works tirelessly to advance PC gaming through close collaboration with hardware standards bodies, API and game developers, making our technologies available to all to help further the industry. Through our collaboration with JEDEC on memory standards like HBM and HBM2, Microsoft on DirectX and Khronos on Vulkan, and through the GPUOpen initiative where we provide access to a comprehensive collection of visual effects, productivity tools, and other content at no cost, we’re enabling the industry to the benefit of gamers.
• A commitment to true transparency through industry standards – Through industry standards like AMD FreeSync technology, we’re providing the PC ecosystem with technologies that significantly enhance gamers’ experiences, enabling partners to adopt them at no cost to consumers, rather than penalizing gamers with proprietary technology “taxes” and limiting their choice in displays.
• Real partnerships with real consistency – We work closely with all our AIB partners, so that our customers are empowered with the best, high-performance, high quality gaming products and technologies available from AMD. No anti-gamer / anti-competitive strings attached.
• Expanding the PC gaming ecosystem – We create open and free game development technologies that enable the next generation of immersive gaming experiences across PC and console ecosystems. These efforts have resulted in advancements such as AMD FreeSync adoption on TVs for Xbox One S or X, integration of forward looking “Vega” architecture features and technologies into Far Cry 5 without penalizing the competition, and inclusion of open sourced AMD innovations into the Vulkan API which game developers can adopt freely.
We pledge to put premium, high-performance graphics cards in the hands of as many gamers as possible and give our partners the support they need without anti-competitive conditions. Through the support of our add-in-board partners that carry forward the AMD Radeon RX brand, we’re continuing to push the industry openly, transparently and without restrictions so that gamers have access to the best immersive technologies, APIs and experiences.
We believe that freedom of choice in PC gaming isn’t a privilege. It’s a right."
AMD did not mince words and its response is effectively 'this means war'. A war for the freedom of choice in PC gaming. A war on the GPP and what the company believes it represents, which it describes as "anti-competitive" and "anti-gamer".
UPDATED - 10:15 PM Tuesday, April 17, 2018 Eastern Time (ET)
AMD has also published a video response to NVIDIA's GPP.
What It All Comes Down To
NVIDIA has claimed that the GeForce Partner Program is "transparent" and "great" for gamers. All the while, evidence pointing to the contrary kept mounting by the week. The company refused to answer some of the most basic questions about the GeForce Partner Program, like who exactly are those partners that have signed up, what they stand to gain rather than lose by doing so, and what the program actually offers to gamers that does not already exist.
It all comes down to this: a company's bid to remove their only competitor from the market by means of strong-arming their "partners" in a "transparant" attempt to consolidate market power and limit your choice as a PC gamer is and can only be described as anti-competitive and anti-gamer. It is the antithesis of what PC gaming is all about, freedom.
I have made an argument and have come to a conclusion in my original evaluation of what the GPP, as alleged, means to us as PC gamers. It's essentially the same one that AMD's Scott Herkelman is mirroring in his blog post and the one I continue to stand by today and it's this.
"PC gamers have picked the PC as their platform of choice because of the incredible freedom that it offers. Begin to chip away at what has made this platform so great and what this passionate community has cherished for decades and you will awaken a sleeping giant. The GPP could very well prove to be a grave mistake for the company and a very costly lesson."