The Long Dark Developer Opts-Out of GeForce Now, Faces Backlash

The Long Dark

Recently Activision, Bethesda, Square Enix and now Hinterland Studio Inc, the indie developers of The Long Dark have pulled their games from GeForce Now, Nvidia's game streaming platform alleging they never gave their permission to have their games on the platform. This seems to be following the logic that GeForce Now is the "Netflix" of games and the publishers and developers are somehow losing by having their game on an unauthorized platform. This logic simply doesn't work.

To begin, GeForce Now isn't a separate platform but a streaming service for games the user already owns. In order to play The Long Dark on GeForce Now, users would need to already own a purchased copy of the game on Steam to stream it on the service. Note that this is not a 'separate' copy, but simply a single copy associated with their Steam account. Herein lies the problem.

Steam is a license-based platform where users can login on any computer using Steam and play their games. What GeForce Now is doing is allowing users to login to Steam on their remote server and play using high-powered hardware, precisely the same as switching from a laptop to a desktop or going to an internet café. This false comparison to Netflix that is being made, that somehow Nvidia is profiting off the backs of the developers hard work would only hold up if they were providing access to users who would not otherwise be able to play the game legally on their own devices.

Now the rational for this might be similar to Activision/Blizzard who clearly thought they could force additional licensing costs out of Nvidia, but this does not appear to be the case here. The Long Dark is not available on Stadia where games must be purchased again to play so this isn't a situation of customers being funneled to an alternative product. According to Raphael's own tweets, this decision was made as he was upset Nvidia failed to ask him for permission to let his customers play their game on Nvidia's service.

As a result, The Long Dark is being bombarded with negative reviews and Steam has, oddly, activated their brigade protection system to protect the developer. Disabling this shows that their metric is down from 91% positive to 71% positive for the past thirty days and it seems likely this number will continue to drop before it recovers.

While I don't support brigading, I believe these reviews are indeed legitimate as many customers may have bought the game to play using GeForce Now and due to this decision, can no longer play. This anti-consumer behavior shouldn't be condoned or supported and I'd strongly urge customers to not support Hinterland Studios Inc.

As for the developers, Hopefully they just deeply misunderstand what GeForce Now actually is. If they reevaluate their position and remember their customers are the only ones suffering, I'm sure the company will recover, but right now it doesn't look so good.