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Nvidia’s Game Code Redemption Process Checks Hardware, Stifles Reselling/Sharing

Nvidia quietly updated its website’s FAQ section pertaining to the company’s GeForce Experience coupon code redemption process. Among the platitudes of useful tips and error message troubleshooting, Nvidia disclosed that it is now performing hardware checks to ensure that the free game goes to the original purchaser.

“Game coupon codes offered as part of a qualifying GPU or PC purchase are intended for use by the purchaser,” stated the Nvidia FAQ page. “As part of the coupon redemption process, NVIDIA uses GeForce Experience to perform a hardware verification step to ensure the coupon code is redeemed on the system with the qualifying GPU.”

Simply put, it’s now virtually impossible to resell or gift a game code attained from a GPU or PC offer due to the new hardware authentication process. Requiring a GeForce Experience login in addition to providing the GPU’s serial number and point of sale permanently assigns that coupon to the purchaser’s account, and you can’t redeem multiple copies for regifting, as Steam and other online game platforms allow.

“A game code can only be redeemed against an account that does not already own the game. If you already own the game, you will not be granted a second copy.”

However, that’s not to say there aren’t ways around this deterrent. Hypothetically, if you wanted to sell or gift an extra game coupon, you could install the GPU onto a local system (or use the PC that came with the game offer), log into the recipient’s GeForce Experience and the game’s online platform accounts (Steam, Uplay, Origin, etc.), and redeem the coupon for them. However, this process isn’t the easiest (or most secure) method, and few would relinquish their online passwords and accounts to anyone they don’t personally know. Still, if viable, you could at least continue to share extra or unwanted game codes with close friends in this manner.

Nvidia’s crackdown on game code resellers seems to have positive intent, but it could have negative consequences, at least, for consumers. As a system builder, I find that I have many extra game codes laying around when I have an order to fulfill and Nvidia is offering a free game. I usually give them away to friends or email the codes to colleagues, at no charge, in an effort not to let a good game go to waste. Making redemption more difficult could result in fewer copies of these games in the wild.

The new verification aspect of the game code redemption process also makes the offers feel more like mail-in rebates, where the inconvenience of registration and redemption could deter some from bothering at all. However unsavory this new process is to consumers, Nvidia stands to win on all fronts by possibly saving some money on unredeemed game offers (kind of like a rebate) and forcing consumers to install and use GeForce Experience to cash in on their free game.

Although Nvidia’s new coupon redemption process appears to be intended to stop code resellers, those with less-malicious intent will have to find a new way to gift unused codes to their friends.

Derek Forrest
Derek Forrest is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He writes hardware news and reviews gaming desktops and laptops.