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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  • CiccioB - Sunday, June 14, 2015 - link

    I wonder, why nvidia does not invest in low level technology like a complete game engine to sell (or even give for free) to developers.
    Doing so allows them to give more bias to the strong points of their own architecture. Of course that will not be good for concurrents, though some extras could just be made optional to allow other architectures to work decently, but with almost 80% of the game market, nvidia can (and should) do that.
  • ET - Sunday, June 14, 2015 - link

    Reading "NVIDIA acquires" always makes me cringe. "There goes another piece of tech to become completely closed and exclusive to NVIDIA hardware," I think.

    Still, in this case far as I know Transgaming wasn't really doing that much with this tech in recent years, so it's not like it will be a big loss. I can certainly see the benefits for both parties. I just hope than NVIDIA will use this tech to help Android games in general and not only Tegra devices.
  • Yojimbo - Sunday, June 14, 2015 - link

    PhysX was always exclusive to PhysX hardware before NVIDIA bought it, was it not? 3dfx technology was exclusive to 3dfx. The Icera softmodem was sold to whomever wants to use it after NVIDIA bought it just like before, I think. You seem be giving a strange impression that you believe all other companies give all their stuff away as if they have some sort of altruistic and communal business spirit and NVIDIA is a big, bad, greedy wolf.

    NVIDIA has no interest in helping Android games unless they can make money by doing so, and neither does any other company. The market will dictate what strategy they choose to use. That's not to say that some companies might not make different decisions in a particular instance than another. But you can be almost certain that if AMD had 75% market share and a technological advantage they'd be doing what they could to profit from that advantage, and NVIDIA in turn would be forced to make their solutions more open so that enough people would pay attention to them.
  • ET - Monday, June 15, 2015 - link

    PhysX was exclusive to PhysX hardware, but that hardware could run alongside any card. If I could buy a cheap NVIDIA card and stick it in an AMD system to get PhsyX, that would be fine, but NVIDIA doesn't allow that. NVIDIA sticks to closed tech, and provides bad support for open one (like OpenCL). AMD contributes a lot more to open projects and standards.

    Similarly with Android, NVIDIA always had exclusives for its Tegra hardware. They don't compete on features or performance, they compete by throwing money at developers, for both PC and Android, to tie their games into the NVIDIA ecosystem.

    And yes, that's business, but I can still root for companies I feel are less predatory. Just because something makes good business doesn't mean it's good for consumers.

    (And for the record most of my PC's have NVIDIA hardware in them, as well as my Nexus 7 2012, which my kids now use.)
  • FlushedBubblyJock - Monday, June 15, 2015 - link

    "There goes another piece of tech to become completely closed and exclusive to NVIDIA hardware," I think.

    And, you hate nvidia, you hate their hardware, you love amd, and amd would never, ever, ever, ever have any exclusive intellectual property. They swore they loved you, and you love them, and neither of you can do any wrong, and certainly not any wrong that evil nvidia has done a thousand times worse and a thousand times more often.
    nvidia needs to be forcibly disbanded by the governments of world before they destroy all innovation and humanity itself.

    I agree with you, transgender was a great totally open source company that anyone could download, then came the devil.
  • NvidiaWins - Thursday, June 25, 2015 - link

    Good stuff~

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