Nvidia GeForce Partner Program has a Good Point, but Crosses a Serious Line
If you saw the news, you might think Nvidia dropped an atomic bomb on the graphics card industry. Anti-consumer practices are serious business and the GeForce Partner Program (GPP) is beginning to show some huge indications that it’s a pretty shady move from a company that has no need to pull these kind of tactics. Some sites might even claim they are falling on the proverbial sword to announce this, yet revealing the nefarious plans of big business is worth it for the greater good. In reality though, Nvidia is making a move that actually makes a lot of sense for branding, but the reward/consequence part of it is where GPP goes too far.
For starters, any company that uses the word “Transparency” a gajillion times to describe a new program needs to really reconsider their word choice. Nvidia used this term many times in their official statement about GPP and that was an instant red flag. What the heck does transparency even mean in the graphics card world!?! The word that points us in the direction Nvidia is really trying to get to is “Consistent.” It’s easy to start hating on a company as soon as we hear they are involved in shady practices, but sometimes it’s important to look for an important issue the company is facing. Branding is perhaps the MOST integral part of a company’s existence in the computer industry and as competition ramps up, branding can be the make or break point of succeeding. Nvidia and AMD have their own branding, but once the AIB partners make a gaming design, the branding is blurred across both companies for one series of graphics card. It’s extremely likely that the biggest thing Nvidia wants is a clear brand dedicated to their GPUs, with AMD GPUs having their own gaming brands to associate with their products.
Here’s where we start approaching the line of Anti-consumer practices though. Who deserves to get the already established brand? For instance, Gigabyte as a company would likely get to make both Nvidia and AMD reference graphic cards. Their Aorus branding on the other hand, would likely have to be dedicated to Nvidia GPUs, only if Gigabyte joined GPP. I don’t think this means that custom graphics cards couldn’t be made for AMD, but I think Nvidia intends a company like Gigabyte to come up with a second gaming brand to further separate the AMD cards from the GeForce ones. My guess is this is what Nvidia intends by the term “transparency,” but as you might have already guessed, there would be a whole new level of confusion with a ridiculous amount of brands to sort through. The other assumption relating to GPP as well is that Nvidia would naturally lay claim to the already established gaming brands since they already have agreements with the companies. This would be a huge blow to AMD and Intel because it would have a partial effect of forcing them to start over with new brands, in spite of being established for decades.
Now that we’ve seen the approach to the shady part of GPP, let’s go to the point where Nvidia seems to be crossing the line entirely for anti-consumer practices. A company can decide to not participate in the program, but Nvidia looks like they’ll punish those manufacturers pretty severely. HardOCP spelled out a large list of benefits these companies will lose with Nvidia. The largest of these might be the Marketing Development Funds, which can instantly put an AIB at a huge disadvantage in competing in the market. It would be one thing if this just cut into some profits in a cut throat business world, but consumers could see their competitive options dwindle substantially as manufacturers drop out of the graphics card industry. The reality for these consequences may not end up being that severe, but the possibility seems too strong to ignore. Companies that have any dealings with Nvidia almost have no choice but to sign up for GPP just to remain relevant and AMD will have no choice but watch as partners drop their GPUs from gaming brands, short of a lawsuit.
That said, Nvidia has one really solid option that would allow them to keep GPP mostly untouched, be fair to consumers, and take the high road in the computer industry. If they called companies that signed up for the program to have to make a completely new gaming brand for green team GPUs, that would keep the market more than fair for AMD and Intel, yet I’d dare say that Nvidia would benefit the most in the long run. Nvidia still has around 70% market share in the graphics card market. New AIB gaming brands would hardly affect GeForce cards in any serious measure since the cards own the performance crowns in the gaming market. The move could genuinely be transparent since what company would decide NOT to talk about their new brand? AMD and Intel would have no legal legs to stand on since they would get access to established brands like ROG and Aorus, which would make it very hard to make a case any judge could take seriously. Ultimately, Nvidia would brand themselves as a company full of integrity, which I believe would translate into more market dominance since a large portion of consumers care about these things. The only question is would Nvidia be so bold?
This is purely speculation, but I truly believe there is two sides to GPP and I hope I’ve laid them out accurately. It’s important to remember that most companies are very unlikely to be inherently evil. Just imagine some of the compromises you might have made when your bills were a bit too tight one month, then imagine the stress executives at companies go through when they’re responsible for millions of dollars. Companies are comprised of people and I dare say that the majority of workers try to do the right thing. Don’t forget to check out the link below and read the hard work that HardOCP put into cracking this story open. Catch ya later!