Nvidia wants you to believe in the GeForce brand. To that end, the company introduced the GeForce Partner Program (GPP), an initiative meant to bridge the gap between Nvidia and the companies that make add-in cards or systems based on its tech. Those companies won't be required to join the program--Nvidia won't gate off new graphics tech behind this initiative--but they will be incentivized to do so with a grab bag of perks.
"So the new program means that we’ll be promoting our GPP partner brands across the web, on social media, at events and more," Nvidia said in a blog post (opens in new tab). "And GPP partners will get early access to our latest innovations, and work closely with our engineering team to bring the newest technologies to gamers." The company isn't just offering free publicity; it's also teasing non-partners about what they're missing.
Those incentives might not seem all that, uh, incentivizing at first glance. Practically every company on Earth can promote its products via social media or at events, after all. Yet reducing the cost of advertising new products while offering early access to new technologies will simultaneously reduce the cost of making new products (marketing is expensive) and let companies seize on the latest-and-greatest tech earlier.
Nvidia said in its blog post that "partners are signing up, fast" because they "see the benefit of keeping brands and communication consistent and transparent." However, the company hasn't announced any partners in the weeks since that blog post was published, and manufacturers haven't revealed their GPP memberships themselves, either. Apparently transparency doesn't begin with knowing who's participating in the program.
So What's the Big Deal?
The lack of info hasn't stopped the GPP from being embroiled in controversy, however. HardOCP reported that Nvidia will require its partners to have their "Gaming Brand Aligned Exclusively With GeForce," based on "documents with this requirement spelled out on it." Companies are also said to be afraid that Nvidia will hold back GPUs from non-partners, which would limit their ability to release graphics cards reliant on those GPUs.
Those assertions contradict what Nvidia said in its own blog post:
The program isn’t exclusive. Partners continue to have the ability to sell and promote products from anyone. Partners choose to sign up for the program, and they can stop participating any time. There’s no commitment to make any monetary payments or product discounts for being part of the program.GPP ensures our engineering and marketing efforts support brands consumers associate with GeForce. That transparency will give gamers the confidence needed to make their purchase, whichever products they choose.
For now, we don't know if the GPP is merely supposed to encourage companies to work more closely with Nvidia, or if it's a thinly veiled threat to anyone who doesn't want to buddy up. Nvidia has not responded to our requests for comment, and OEMs aren't talking, either. What we do know is that Nvidia wants the GPP to protect the GeForce brand. Whether it succeeds or fails, we suspect the GPP will have a lasting effect on what people think about when they see the brand on a product.