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Activision Blizzard just stopped customers from playing its games

Let's say you don't have a gaming PC, but you want to play Overwatch. You discover you can subscribe to GeForce Now — a new streaming service from Nvidia — and pay Activision Blizzard $20 for a copy of the game. That all seems kosher, right? You paid GeForce Now for the service. You paid Activision Blizzard for the game. You can now stream your copy of Overwatch and play to your heart's content.

Or you could, until Activision Blizzard suddenly decided it had a problem with this arrangement.

In a statement released yesterday, Nvidia confirmed that support for Activision Blizzard titles would be removed from GeForce Now. Nvidia did note that it would work to get games like OverwatchWorld of Warcraft, and Call of Duty back on board; however, those who signed up for GeForce Now to play a favorite title from the Activision Blizzard catalog now find themselves completely out of luck.

This sets a terrible precedent

To understand why this move is so outrageous, you have to know a bit more about GeForce Now and what it does.

GeForce Now is not a standalone streaming platform like Google Stadia. It doesn't have a dedicated storefront, nor does it try to sell games in any other fashion. It simply provides you with access to a powerful gaming PC in the cloud — one capable of running launchers like Steam, uPlay, and Battle.net.

You don't get free games by subscribing to GeForce Now, either. Instead, you have to buy games through digital storefronts, just as you would on a local PC. If you want to play Half-Life, you need to get it from Steam. If you want a copy of Overwatch, you have to buy it from Activision Blizzard. Nvidia doesn't get a single penny from that transaction; all it does is offer you a way to play that game via streaming.

What Activision Blizzard is saying here, in essence, is that you're more than welcome to pay for any game you want. You as a consumer, however, do not get to choose how you play that game. You can load it up on your bedroom PC and that's not a problem. If you want to stream that same title, the response from Activision Blizzard is, "No, you can't do that."

It's pretty unbelievable.

We'll have to wait and see how this all shakes out. In the meantime, Activision Blizzard titles are officially a no-go on GeForce Now. If you want to play them, you'll have to do it the old fashioned way.