AMD Offers Gamers An Unprecedented Deal With "Never Settle" Game Bundle

The practice of bundling games with video cards dates back to the earliest days of the 3D business, when partnering with board vendors was the best way of ensuring that the customer would have at least one game that took advantage of the shiny new card. Much of the time, the question of what game publisher to work with is left to the individual board vendor, though AMD cut a massive (and somewhat infamous) deal with Valve to distribute The Orange Box several years back.

When Nvidia announced that its Kepler-based GTX 660 would be shipping with copies of Borderlands 2, it was seen as a move that could substantially boost the card's uptake. AMD, already smarting and on the defensive in the GPU market, has decided to beat Nvidia at its own game. Starting today, anyone who buys a Radeon 7700 - 7900 GPU earns themselves a free copy of Far Cry 3 and 20% off Medal of Honor: Warfighter (AKA Medal of Honor: Ad Nauseam Mortuus Equus).

Here's the breakout:

The value of the MoH:W discount is ~$12 assuming a $59.95 list price. HD 7700 and 7800 buyers get $72 worth of games. Buy a brace of either card, and AMD will toss in a copy of the upcoming Hitman: Absolution. Finally, anyone who upgrades to an HD 7900 also receives the full bundles above and a copy of Sleeping Dogs.

The bundle, moreover, isn't the only benefit AMD is rolling out this holiday season. The company is prepping the release of the 12.11 "Never Settle" driver, which it claims will deliver significant performance gains. Here's AMD's official slide:

And here's what those gains look like when you graph them properly.

(We omitted Civilization V to make the graph fit legibly; AMD also predicts a >10% gain in that title.)

Between the driver updates, which will be available to all Radeon owners, and the free games, AMD is clearly doing its best to halt Kepler's encroachment into the Radeon's terrain. Obviously the real value of the bundle depends on whether or not these were games you wanted to play in the first place, but it's been a long time since AMD made this concerted an effort to win holiday space or talked up its own Gaming Evolved program as a counterpoint to Nvidia's The Way It's Meant To Be Played campaign. It's at this point that readers typically ask why the company doesn't just cut prices, thereby giving consumers a straight discount.

Think of these games as a sort of rebate. While exact redemption figures will depend on the game in question, AMD has almost certainly negotiated a deal in which it pays the publisher a set amount + an additional sum per activated copy. If you buy a Radeon 7900, take home the entire game bundle, and then don't activate the games, AMD isn't on the hook for the full retail price of the software.

The other reason to offer aggressive bundles instead of lower prices is that AMD has already cut prices on the Radeon HD 7000 family multiple times this year. Continuing to do so directly erodes company margins right after a disastrous third-quarter report and imminent layoff announcements. Great software bundles, on the other hand, are easy to spin as a value-added option AMD is offering that Nvidia hasn't matched.