Activision Blizzard just pulled its games from Nvidia’s GeForce Now, and that sucks

Nvidia and Activision Blizzard seem like close partners. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is one of the biggest games to take advantage of the real-time ray tracing capabilities in modern GeForce graphics cards, and games like Overwatch have graced Nvidia’s GeForce Now for most of the gaming-from-the-cloud service’s multi-year beta. But a mere week after GeForce Now fully launched and obliterated Google Stadia’s value proposition, Activision Blizzard’s games are being yanked from the service at the publisher’s request, effective immediately.

No more playing Overwatch on your crappy old laptop. No more Diablo III on your phone. No more playing the latest World of Warcraft raid boss in way better fidelity than your potato PC can normally handle. No more real-time ray tracing from the cloud in Modern Warfare.

Nvidia announced its removal with the following statement:

“As we take GeForce NOW to the next step in its evolution, we’ve worked with publishers to onboard a robust catalog of your PC games. This means continually adding new games, and on occasion, having to remove games – similar to other digital service providers.

Per their request, please be advised Activision Blizzard games will be removed from the service. While unfortunate, we hope to work together with Activision Blizzard to reenable these games and more in the future.

In addition to the hundreds of games currently supported, we have over 1,500 games that developers have asked to be on-boarded to the service. Look for weekly updates as to new games we are adding.”

On the plus side, since Bungie recently broke away from Activision Blizzard, you’ll still be able to play Destiny 2 on GeForce Now. The game is central to Google Stadia’s $10 per month Pro subscription, but you can play it for no cost whatsoever on GeForce Now, as the base game’s free-to-play and Nvidia offers a totally free-as-in-beer free tier.

Still, Activision Blizzard’s withdrawal is a major, major bummer. Sure, GeForce Now still offers vastly more games than Stadia and other cloud-based challengers, but Blizzard’s Warcraft, Diablo, StarCraft, and Hearthstone are some of the most-played and most-loved franchises in PC history. Call of Duty, meanwhile, tops sales charts year-in and year-out, and Modern Warfare’s removal means you won’t be able to try out its ray tracing with your fancy GeForce Now Founders subscription. This hurts.

It’s also a bit perplexing.

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We spoke at length about GeForce Now and why it rocks on a recent episode of our Full Nerd podcast, and its value proposition isn’t limited to gamers alone. Nvidia’s service doesn’t sell you games directly. Instead, it basically rents you a gaming PC in the cloud, and you sign into gaming platforms like Steam, the Epic Game Store, and (formerly) Battle.net to play games you already own. Nvidia doesn’t take an extra cut. By giving you access to more powerful hardware than you might already own, GeForce Now effectively encourages you to buy more games through existing storefronts. It feels like a win-win for everybody involved.

In his hands-on with the service, my Macworld colleague Leif Johnson stated that GeForce Now is probably as good as Mac gaming is ever going to get.