Nvidia has announced that all Activision Blizzard games available on its GeForce Now streaming service will soon be removed from streaming play at the publisher’s request. The move affects a number of GeForce streamable games on Blizzard’s Battle.net launcher, including Overwatch, World of Warcraft, Starcraft 2, and the Call of Duty series (Destiny 2 is still streamable since Bungie split with Activision just over a year ago).
“[We’re] continually adding new games, and on occasion, having to remove games – similar to other digital service providers,” Nvidia said in a statement. “While unfortunate, we hope to work together with Activision Blizzard to re-enable these games and more in the future.”
Activision Blizzard hasn’t publicly commented on the reason for this pullback, and the company’s games could return soon. But last month Activision Blizzard announced that it had entered into a multiyear partnership with Google Cloud to provide backend infrastructure support for its game, as well as esports streaming services through YouTube. Activision didn’t announce any plans to bring games to Google’s Stadia service at that time, but such a move would make some sense as an extension of that existing partnership.
The timing for the removal is especially surprising considering that GeForce Now just came out of a lengthy beta period this month. The service touted streaming support for hundreds of existing games purchased across Steam, Epic Games Store, Ubisoft’s uPlay, Bethesda Launcher, and EA’s Origin as a major selling point. The quick removal of Battle.net from that list so soon after the rollout is a small body blow for the new service, though Nvidia does note that there are “over 1,500 games that developers have asked to be on-boarded to the service” and that new titles will be added through weekly updates.
GeForce Now users can still play their Activision Blizzard games locally, so no one will fully lose access to any purchases as a result of this move (that probably won’t be the case if and when Google’s streaming-only Stadia service shuts down). Still, the feature removal is painful to anyone who purchased these games (or Nvidia’s streaming subscription plan) at least in part to enjoy them via streaming. That includes players who might have used GeForce Now to play Activision Blizzard games on mobile phones, where local play just isn’t an option in most cases.
The move is yet another reminder that while subscription gaming might be more convenient, it means giving up the idea of full ownership of the games and features you pay for. In the nascent game streaming era, access to your games only lasts as long as the publishers and/or streaming providers are willing to provide it.