AMD Adds Battlefield 4, SimCity to "Never Settle" Radeon Bundle, Expands to APUs -- But Is The Program Working?

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News Posted: Mon, Apr 8 2013 12:33 PM
AMD has confirmed that Battlefield 4 will be part of its upcoming "Never Settle" bundle. The game isn't supposed to drop until late 2013, which means AMD is announcing a coupon package well in advance of the actual title. This isn't the first time a manufacturer has taken this step, but it's been quite awhile -- the last major tie-in we remember this far in advance was an offer for Valve's Orange and Black Boxes that shipped back in the 2004 time frame.

It's not surprising to see EA and AMD teaming up, since BF4 was demoed on Team Red hardware about ten days back, but the "Never Settle" program deserves a closer look. Since late October, AMD has been aggressively bundling and promoting the Radeon family as shipping with coupons for popular, top-tier games. The first package launched with coupons for Medal of Honor: Warfighter, Far Cry 3, Hitman: Absolution, and Sleeping Dogs.



Since then, Crysis 3, Tomb Raider, and BioShock Infinite have all been offered through the NS promotion. There's even evidence that the company is going to widen the program to include A10/A8 APUs with more casual offerings, like EA's SimCity. (In this case, waiting probably improves the chances that gamers will see the option as a positive).



Never Settle is interesting because it's one of the few visible positive changes Rory Read has made since taking over as CEO. It's a great deal for gamers -- but the impact on AMD's sales is less clear. We've heard from retailers that the NS bundles have helped move enthusiast cards in the HD 7900 family, with the HD 7800 GPUs receiving a smaller boost.

Unfortunately, there's evidence that these sales boosts haven't been strong enough to offset Nvidia's increased market share or a general downturn in the entire AIB (add-in board) market. According to Jon Peddie Research, the discrete market split between AMD and Nvidia has been shifting towards Team Green for the past three quarters.



Total discrete sales, meanwhile, have continued to fall. JPR estimates that Q4 2012 sales fell 17.3% compared to Q3 2012 and 10% compared to Q4 2011. Given that Q1 sales are typically lower than Q4 sales across the board, and with the entire PC market in the doldrums, it may be exceptionally difficult to see any positive impact from Never Settle, even when Q1 figures are available a few weeks hence.

A Few Tweaks Might Not Hurt:

Despite this, I think Never Settle is still a good idea. AMD is putting its GPU technology front-and-center on the PC side, while talking up console wins in the Wii U, PS4, and Xbox Durango. It's a good way to build long-term brand strength, particularly given that many of the games AMD is sponsoring have been well-reviewed and extremely popular.

On the other hand, there's got to be a reason why "Gaming Evolved" has crept past "TWIMTBP." After a decade of heavy sponsorship, NV has been curiously absent from a number of recent launches. Whether that's due to a quieter affiliate program or a strategic decision to allocate more resources towards Project Shield isn't clear. If "Gaming Evolved" is part of a cross-platform strategy designed to build GCN support across the PS4, Xbox Durango, and PC, it may make more sense for AMD to be a tighter partner in this arena.

The one thing I'd change about the Never Settle program is to add flexibility regarding game titles. The problem with pre-sponsoring BF4 as an upcoming game is that it means players who know they'll purchase it now have to choose between pre-order benefits from various companies and getting a coupon for the game from AMD.

Ideally, AMD could offer redemption codes that weren't tied to a single title. Buy a 7790 now, and get a coupon you can use for BioShock Infinite, Tomb Raider, or Battlefield 4 when it ships later this year. That way, a gamer could pick up a new card today without worrying about synchronizing a GPU purchase with a specific game.
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Is it just me or does that FPS benchmark strike you guys as disingenuous?

I mean, if you're going to offer a comparison on a chart, why not compare it to comparable hardware instead of purposefully only comparing to to hardware that is certainly slower than yours.

It's like saying "Our Mitsubishi Lancer EVO is way faster than the Honda Leaf and a used 2000 Geo Metro"... well... of course it is.

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I tend to agree, but what's worse is when a company puts the number baseline for the bars high, so that their product appears to be like 10x faster than the competition. That's a real pet peeve of mine.

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i was going to get a 7770, but i decided to get a 7870 because of tomb raider and bioshock

Thanks AMD

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Clixxer replied on Mon, Apr 8 2013 4:42 PM

Well maybe I will hold off on buying a GPU. I have beta access from buying MOH warfighter and was trying to decide when I would want to spend the $70 on BF4 but I may just have to wait.

My rig - I7-4770K, ASUS Z87-A Mobo, 16 GB Corsair Ram, AMD 7990 GPU, CoolIT AiO Cooler, NZXT H630

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turtle replied on Mon, Apr 8 2013 8:34 PM

Typically dig HH content and articles, but this needs some massive work in the editing dept. Also, I generally disagree with a lot of the arguments.

1. AMD didn't announce anything. They were poised the question by a journalist and said essentially 'It was shown with Gaming Evolved logos for the first time at GDC, it would make sense for that to happen.' He basically helped the journalist understand how to do deductive reasoning via marketing. Ex: nVIDIA hasn't announced bundling Arkham 3, but if it's TWIMTBP it's essentially a sure thing. Marketing does not equal bundle announcement even if implied.

2. AMD has said because of NS and NSR that Q1 sales were similar to Q4 (in their hasty 'stable 7000' conference call). The assumption of the article is only correct if nvidia had equally good sales not compared to AMD generally, but the previous quarter versus themselves. Given all the generally accurate assumptions about typical Q1 sales, I fail to see the correlation. What would have spurred GPU upgrades more than the top two selling, if not best received titles of the year so far? In short, I think a better interpretation is if one planned on playing a new PC game in Q1, they likely considered the bundle a value-add.

As I've said before, I agree a big part of the upcoming ecosystem is AMD segmenting good, better, best along with cheap (APU), budget (console), and enthusiast. Be that mobile/mom's pc, console, and up-to-date gaming PC or categorized differently. It's clear gaming bundles will also offset the times between product launches (7790, for instance, was planned to launch RIGHT AFTER Bioshock, the last free title, which end-capped Q1 and 7790 started Q2) to keep momentum. This essentially completes the last argument: You don't need to wait. By a new card now for the tech, or wait and get a new game instead of waiting for new tech. Buy a console and/or console title, or get perhaps that same title as a value-add to a cheaper and/or better experience on a PC. Pretty clever marketing from multiple directions when you think about it.

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Joel H replied on Tue, Apr 9 2013 9:37 AM

Turtle,

1) AMD's overall share of the AIB market has fallen noticeably since Q2 201, as has their share of the laptop market. Rory Read stated last year that AMD had cut its ties with a number of small OEM laptop partners in favor of working with large strategic companies. It's share of the discrete market has slipped as a result.

Q1 sales being 'similar' to Q4 (presumably adjusted for seasonality) isn't great news. It's not calamitous (but I don't present the situation as calamitous in the first place).

2) "You can expect that Battlefield 4 will be part of [future] Never Settle bundles." That's a quote from an AMD source. That's not just a logical expectation. Now, you can argue that the source shouldn't have spoken on behalf of AMD, but that's a quote from an AMD employee.

3) You are misunderstanding the degree to which multiple sales trend can present simultaneously. It's entirely possible that NS boosted sales of the HD 7900 family (a positive) while NV won more volume in mobile and with lower-end parts. AMD has previously stated that HD 7900 sales were up, despite a decrease in total market share and lower GPU revenue. AMD's Q4 GPU revenue, for example, was lower than Q3.

4) As I've said, I think NS is a good deal and smart marketing. But that doesn't mean it's enough to offset broader market trends. The PC market, as a whole, is contracting sharply. That hits AMD and Intel both, but AMD is less able to weather the storm. But don't forget -- NS also eats into AMD's own margins on GPUs. It's buying the game licenses it packages with these cards, which partially offsets any profits from increased shipments.

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Joel H replied on Tue, Apr 9 2013 9:46 AM

Johnny,

The chart's disingenuousness (or not) would mostly be based on the relative price of the components in question. If the 5600K APU is cheaper (or equally priced) to the Intel components it compares against, I'd call that fair.

If its more expensive, but offers substantially better performance, I wouldn't call it neutral -- but manufacturer-provided data is almost never neutral.

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