Amid heated controversy, Nvidia shuts GeForce Partner Program

Unwilling to battle an onslaught of “untruths” and “rumors,” Nvidia is shutting down its GeForce Partner Program (GPP), the company said on Friday, May 4. The program was meant to ensure transparency; some argued instead that it was illegal — and hurt customers in the end.

Nvidia launched GPP at the beginning of March to ensure that gamers know what they’re buying when shopping for a new gaming PC. With this program, partners would provide full transparency regarding the installed hardware and software in their products. 

“The new program means that we’ll be promoting our GPP partner brands across the web, on social media, at events and more,” Nvidia’s John Teeple said at the time. “And GPP partners will get early access to our latest innovations, and work closely with our engineering team to bring the newest technologies to gamers.” 

But controversy quickly followed.  Shortly after the launch, unnamed sources from add-in card and desktop/laptop manufacturers came forward to reveal that the program would likely hurt consumer choice. Even more, they worried that some of the agreement language was actually illegal while the program itself could disrupt the current business they have with AMD and Intel. They also revealed one major requirement: The resulting product sports the label “[gaming brand] Aligned Exclusively with GeForce.” 

As an example, if Asus wanted to add its Republic of Gamers (RoG) line to Nvidia’s program, it wouldn’t be allowed to sell RoG products with AMD graphics. Of course, manufacturers can choose whether to join Nvidia’s program, but membership supposedly had its “perks” including access to early technology, sales rebate programs, game bundling, and more. 

AMD vice president and general manager Scott Herkelman had something to say without calling the program out by name. To the company’s defense, desktop and laptop manufacturers almost always list the hardware components of their products, thus Nvidia’s program really wasn’t about transparency in the first place. But Herkelman felt the need to pledge that it’s reigniting the freedom of choice. 

Yet he didn’t stop there. Herkelman jumped on Twitter to provide a more heated statement regarding the competition’s partner program. 

“Many of you told me how our competition tries to use funding and allocation to restrict or block your ability to market and sell Radeon based products in the manner you and your customers desire,” he said to AMD’s partners. “I want to let you know that your voices have been heard and that I welcome any others who have encountered similar experiences to reach out to me. Together we can work to ensure that we give gamers what they truly deserve — freedom of choice.” 

According to Nvidia, all it asked of its partners was to “brand their products in a way that would be crystal clear.” The company says it didn’t want “substitute GPUs hidden behind a pile of techno-jargon.” Specifications for desktops and laptops tend to list their graphics components and PC gamers are generally intelligent shoppers that don’t need any clarification. 

Regardless, Nvidia is pulling the controversial program because the “rumors, conjecture, and mistruths go far beyond” the program’s intent.

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