Graphics card vendors are having a hard time these days distinguishing their wares from the competition in this cut-throat margin market. As we've reported in the past, the 3D performance of any graphics processor is generally set within predefined limits, so there is only so much a graphics card vendor can do. The differences between maker Y's model and that of maker X' are negligible.
Besides decking them out with colored boards or illuminated heatsinks, card manufacturers also try to make their products more attractive by throwing in full versions of PC games. While that is a fine thing in and of itself, there are several issues to consider.
First, the latest hit games drive up the card's price and can already be found on many gamers' shelves anyway, so it actually serves as a disincentive for many buyers. Additionally, lesser-known games often fail to have the intended impact on sales for the simple reason that the buyer has never heard of the game. Older games have outdated graphics and thus are only of interest to hardcore fans at best. As if the choice of what to include weren't hard enough already, personal preferences also have to be taken into account: is it better to go with first-person shooter, real-time strategy, role-playing or racing games? So selecting the right mix of games to bundle is no easy task for the graphics card manufacturer.
Sapphire Select will be part of most Sapphire retail cards in the future.
However, with its new Sapphire Select initiative, graphics-card maker Sapphire has hit upon a simple yet brilliant recipe to keep many gamers happy, comprising two DVDs jam-packed with the latest game titles for many different tastes, plus an activation voucher. The full version of each game on the DVDs can be played for an hour. Later, a set number of the games can be activated permanently after you've made your selection using access codes - naturally monitored by software that prevents misuse. Additional games and/or licenses can be purchased at any time at a discount.
The brains behind this new kind of software bundle is TLA (The Licensing Agency), which handles all negotiations and contracts with the game publishers. At the core of the concept is ActiveMARK software from Trymedia, which ensures that the gamer can try out the full versions of every title on the DVDs for an hour each for free. Games are activated by sending an access code via ActiveMARK with an Internet connection.