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Microsoft signs deal with Nvidia to bring Xbox’s PC games to GeForce Now

Microsoft expands cloud-based gaming offerings in battle over Activision Blizzard acquisition

Microsoft Xbox logo on a glitchy green background Illustration: James Bareham/Polygon
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Microsoft and Nvidia have inked a deal to bring the Xbox maker’s PC games to cloud-gaming service GeForce Now, the companies jointly announced Tuesday. The deal will also bring Activision Blizzard’s games, including the Call of Duty franchise, to Nvidia’s cloud-gaming service should Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard go through.

In a news release outlining the 10-year deal, Microsoft and Nvidia said their agreement will let players “stream Xbox PC titles from GeForce Now to PCs, macOS, Chromebooks, smartphones and other devices.” According to Nvidia, GeForce Now has more than 25 million members in over 100 countries.

The companies did not specify which Xbox PC games would be included as part of the arrangement, but the list would likely include titles like Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5, Microsoft Flight Simulator, and other high-profile first-party offerings. The deal could also see the return of Bethesda Softworks-published games to GeForce Now, which were removedalongside a host of Activision Blizzard titles — three years ago.

Microsoft vice chair and president Brad Smith unveiled the deal during a press conference in Brussels, where the company held a hearing with European Union and national antitrust officials in an attempt to push its $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard past regulators. The deal with Nvidia comes the same day that Microsoft announced it has signed a “binding 10-year legal agreement” to put Call of Duty on Nintendo platforms.

In January, Nvidia reportedly expressed concerns with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that Microsoft’s proposed buyout of Activision Blizzard could hinder competition. Nvidia’s GeForce Now is a competitor to Microsoft’s Cloud Gaming initiative, which brings Xbox and PC games to a variety of devices, including smartphones. Nvidia reportedly did not directly oppose the deal, but stressed the need for open and equal access to Activision Blizzard’s games.

On Feb. 8, the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority announced it had “provisionally concluded” its investigation into Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, and decided the deal could harm competition in the games market in a way that would have an impact on gamers. As part of its findings, the CMA said the deal could stifle competition in the growing cloud gaming market.