Last week, Kyle Bennett of [H]ardOCP put up an article that is providing an interesting look at some business dealings between NVIDIA, OEMs, and AIB partners through the GeForce Partner Program (GPP). According to an NVIDIA blog post GPP is meant to provide full transparency into the graphics card and software they are sold and to that end, wants to bring consistency across NVIDIA brands and partner brands. NVIDIA would therefore be promoting GPP member brands through their public channels, like social media and events, and these members will get certain benefits from NVIDIA as well, including access to innovations and engineering teams.
The reason Kyle Bennett started looking into GPP is because AMD reached out to [H]ardOCP and other websites about it, and while what AMD presented was not enough to tell a story, he reached out to contacts at seven companies for more information. As is stated in the source link below, not one of these contacts was willing to speak on the record, if they said anything at all, and those that did requested anonymity for fear of losing their jobs or their being retribution by NVIDIA on them or their companies. According to Kyle, there were a number of consistencies across the interviews he did get, including the concern the terms of GPP "are likely illegal," it will hurt consumers' choices, and it will disrupt business with those companies doing business with AMD and Intel.
The primary source of those concerns is a GPP requirement that the member companies must have its "Gaming Brand Aligned Exclusively With GeForce," and Kyle has also read documents with this spelled out. This requirement would mean if a company has a gaming brand, which many do, it could not contain anything but GeForce products, so AMD-based GPUs, for example, would be forced out of it, to some non-gaming brand. This would not be limited to gaming graphics cards, but all gaming products such as laptops and pre-built desktops.
While joining the GeForce Partner Program is optional for companies, not being a partner can lose you a number of benefits including: high-effort engineering engagements; early tech engagement; launch partner status; game bundling; sales rebate programs; social media and PR support; marketing reports; and marketing development funds. Kyle specifically pulls out the marketing development funds as being reminiscent of the monopolistic practices Intel used in the past. Multi-billion dollar fines were eventually placed on Intel for those practices.
I suspect this is only the beginning of this story, and hopefully more information will come out before long to better explain the terms of the GeForce Partner Program.
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