Yesterday NVIDIA launched a new Beta for GeForce Experience which includes an updated Share feature, Youtube Live streaming, new high-quality streaming options and more. One factor that unfortunately wasn't relayed/made clear in the EU Briefing Call we attended was NVIDIA's apparent intention to wall off Game Ready Driver updates behind an e-mail registration wall.
Game Ready Drivers are WHQL-certified packages released in advance of a particular game's release, typically a game which NVIDIA themselves have lent their expertise to (though not always). The intention is a noble one: to provide users of NVIDIA GPUs with the best possible experience from day one. It won't help if the game itself has more fundamental problems, as shown in stark relief this year by Batman: Arkham Knight, but in general it's a welcome (and exclusive) feature.
Currently you can acquire them via GeForce Experience - a small exclamation point over the Windows Taskbar icon indicates that an update is ready - or from http://www.geforce.com/drivers. However according to US publications PCWORLD and AnandTech in the future these specific drivers will only be available if you register with NVIDIA via e-mail and download via the GFE app. Apparently not even the regular website download will be a source.
It's been stated in these publications that this move is intended to empower the enthusiast segment whilst not bogging down normal users with unending notifications, especially given the fast pace of new releases during the Autumn release window. This rationale seems a little odd given that notifications are already very discrete, and the mixed opinion said enthusiasts have over GFE itself.
Perhaps predictably PC gaming communities have reacted rather disdainfully, as you can read in the /r/games thread on the subject. Although Shadowplay (now rebranded as 'Share') is highlighted as a net positive, words such as 'bloatware' are being bandied around and that never looks good for bundled software. Some are also suggesting that NVIDIA are leveraging their market position to push customer registration, with the 'Software as a Service' bogeyman brought up. Fears that NVIDIA could move to a subscription model for driver releases sound utterly far-fetched though.
For NVIDIA's part, they have also sated that by registering users will be eligible for NVIDIA-sponsored competitions and giveaways, as well as receive notifications for new hardware and software releases.
NVIDIA aren't the only company to have moved software features behind e-mail registration walls. A few years ago Razer pushed macro sharing to the Cloud, eliminating some of the on-board memory in their peripherals and relying on their own app to handle both macros and transitions from one PC to another. Public push-back has diminished over time, and Razer remains a very strong brand today.
We would have liked to include this information in our primer article on the GeForce Experience Beta yesterday. We've also reached out to NVIDIA for comment and will amend this article appropriately if that happens.