Controversy has been swirling around the purported effects of Nvidia's GeForce Partner Program on board partners who sell both GeForces and Radeons over the past few weeks. Although the program first came to light in a rather anodyne blog post promising "transparency" and "consistency" for DIY gamers shopping for graphics cards, HardOCP's Kyle Bennett secured quotes from industry members to the effect that signing up for the program as a manufacturer brings with it a range of chafing restrictions.
Most notably, Bennett's anonymous sources suggest that the GPP requires companies who want to sell GeForces in their products to keep their "Gaming Brand Exclusively Aligned with GeForce." In Bennett's example, if Asus were to hypothetically sign up for the program, it couldn't use its popular Republic of Gamers brand to sell both GeForces and Radeons. ROG graphics cards could only be associated with GeForce products.
That hypothetical now appears to be more concrete than not. AMD's Radeon Technologies Group isn't explicitly saying as much, but the red team seems to be responding to the GPP in force today. In a blog post on the Radeon website, RTG general manager of gaming Scott Herkelman says that "over the coming weeks, you can expect to see our add-in board partners launch new brands that carry an AMD Radeon product."
Herkelman asserts that the Radeon brand stands for freedom of choice, and he touts AMD's long history of launching new industry standards like HBM graphics RAM and open technologies like FreeSync. The real thrust of Herkelman's post seems to be putting a couple of barbs in the green team's GPP blog post by touting AMD's "true transparency" and "real consistency" in its interactions with its board partners and gamers, though.
Most notably, it's Asus who's leading the charge with new Radeon-specific branding. The company will shortly begin selling Radeons under the Arez brand name. For example, the ROG Strix RX Vega 64 O8G Gaming is now called the Arez Strix RX Vega 64 O8G Gaming, and so on for a wide range of cards under the familiar Phoenix, Expedition, and Dual sub-brands. Not so hypothetical after all, it would seem. Going by Herkelman's blog post, Asus won't be the last company to launch a Radeon-specific brand, either.
In a world where one still can't touch a graphics card for much less than hundreds of dollars over suggested prices at retail, a spat purely confined to branding, marketing, and trade dress is especially hard for me to get worked up over. Gamers seem unlikely to care much about what brand is on the front of a graphics-card box if the sticker on that box still carries an unaffordably-inflated price tag. Should graphics-card prices ever return to Earth, however, Radeon gamers and GeForce gamers will be able to claim their own brands for their GPU vendor of choice in a market that's more polarized than ever.