While NVIDIA’s core businesses and gaming have been inseparable since the start, it’s only relatively recently that NVIDIA has become heavily involved in game creation itself, and not just supplying the hardware that games are played on. The launch of the company’s Tegra ARM SoCs, their SHIELD product lineup, and the overall poor state of the Android gaming market has led to the company investing rather significantly in bringing higher quality games over to SHIELD and Android devices. This has culminated in NVIDIA paying for the Android ports for a number of games, some of the most famous including the Android ports of Valve’s Half-Life 2 and Portal.

Meanwhile with the launch of the SHIELD Android TV, NVIDIA is essentially doubling-down on Android gaming as part of their efforts to become the premiere Android TV set top box. And now as part of those efforts, the company has announced that they are acquiring the Graphics & Portability Group (GPG) from game tool developer Transgaming.

Transgaming is best known for their work developing Cider, a WINE-derived Windows compatibility layer used to quickly port Windows games over to OS X. With the rise of Apple’s fortunes and the move to x86, Transgaming has been responsible for either directly porting or supplying Cider to developers to bring a number of Windows games over to OS X. However in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, back in March of this year the company announced that they were also going to get in to using their technology and expertise to port games over to architectures, partnering with NVIDIA to bring Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance to SHIELD Android TV.

NVIDIA's SHIELD Console: The Reason For The Acquisition

Now just 3 months later NVIDIA is acquiring the GPG outright from Transgaming. This acquisition will see the group open a new office in Toronto, while structurally they are folded into the NVIDIA GameWorks division. And although NVIDIA doesn't state what precisely they intend to do with the group and its technology beyond the fact that the “acquisition will enrich our GameWorks effort,” it’s a safe bet that NVIDIA intends to do more game ports for their SHIELD devices. Given their existing (if short) relationship, the acquisition is not too surprising, however it is a bit interesting since the bulk of the group’s experience is with porting games among different x86 OSes, not porting games to new architectures entirely.

As for Transgaming, having sold the GPG to NVIDIA, the company has retained their SwiftShader (software 3D rendering) technology and their GameTree TV business. Transgaming has indicated that they are going to focus on providing apps for the Smart TV market, which they see as a greater growth opportunity than porting games.

Games Published By Transgaming GPG On the Mac App Store

Finally, while this acquisition will undoubtedly be a big deal for NVIDIA’s efforts to bring more major games to SHIELD, perhaps the more profound ramifications of this deal will be what it means for Mac gaming. Though NVIDIA doesn’t definitively state what they will be doing with Cider, the fact that they have their own platform to worry about certainly gives pause for thought. There are a large number of games that have received native Mac ports over the years, but Cider has still been used in everything from Metal Gear Solid to EVE Online. If Cider becomes unavailable to developers, then this may cut down on the number of Windows games that get ported to OS X, especially those games where marginal sales may make a native port impractical. In either case with this acquisition NVIDIA seems to have co-opted a lot of the technology and relationships behind Mac game porting, which should be a boon for their SHIELD platform.

Source: Transgaming (via Beyond3D)

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  • Nagorak - Saturday, June 13, 2015 - link

    Nvidia has slightly better GPU tech. AMD cards are still quite competitive. And that's just at the moment. The advantage can easily turn around from one generation to the next (it has in the past).
  • Morawka - Sunday, June 14, 2015 - link

    maybe in GPU speed but not even close in perf per watt. and thats really what matters in 80% of today's compute market.
  • chizow - Saturday, June 13, 2015 - link

    Apple couldn't just buy Nvidia, would be a massive poison pill that even their $700 market cap wouldn't be able to digest. Nvidia would end up way overvalued at like $50Bn or something if Apple tried a hostile takeover.

    And as we've seen, gross overvaluation can lead to eventual problems long-term (see AMD acq. of ATI).
  • Nagorak - Saturday, June 13, 2015 - link

    Why would they even want to buy Nvidia anyway? They can already buy their products. It doesn't make any real sense that Apple would even be interested in getting into the business of making graphics chips. They already arguably can make better mobile chips in house.

    I could actually see a purchase of AMD as being more likely, but even there there's no real point to it.
  • Morawka - Sunday, June 14, 2015 - link

    very arguably.... they arent even close to X1 with ipad air 2.. and that gpu is not inhouse.. it's off the shelf.
  • Yojimbo - Saturday, June 13, 2015 - link

    A hostile takeover?
  • WorldWithoutMadness - Saturday, June 13, 2015 - link

    No, Apple wants the 'know how' to breathe the Metal stuffs into their ecosystem since all these crazy low level API pops out like flu. Nvidia can't give Apple that knowledge but AMD can.
    That's AMD bargains for the next several years and of course the large margin.
  • chizow - Saturday, June 13, 2015 - link

    @Morawka. Agreed, its been a headache for our Mac users with all these driver branches due to the hardware change from Nvidia back to AMD, but its most likely costs and politics driving the decisions. Apple wants OpenCL to succeed and Nvidia is obviously pushing CUDA, so I imagine they will continue to be at odds.
  • Yojimbo - Saturday, June 13, 2015 - link

    Apple has an interest in encouraging their users to use OpenCL rather than CUDA because it allows Apple more choice and better bargaining power. But they can do nothing to kill CUDA even if they wanted to. Choosing AMD now because CUDA is not an option for AMD GPUs is preemptively reducing their choice in order to prevent the loss of choice later. It may affect their decisions but it makes no sense for it to be an avoid NVIDIA at all costs policy.
  • savagemike - Saturday, June 13, 2015 - link

    The real loser if Nvidia is successful in building Android gaming will be Microsoft. There are already extremely few reasons why Android wouldn't work as a desktop OS.

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