AMD fired a shot across Nvidia’s bow in 2012 by introducing the “Never Settle” video card game bundle. The purpose was simple; attract gamers to AMD video cards providing them with free games like Far Cry 3, Hitman: Absolution and Sleeping Dogs. While bundled titles were not uncommon before Never Settle, they were usually restricted to just one title. Offering multiple recent AAA releases just didn’t happen.
Nvidia has responded with its free-to-play bundle, which lures in gamers by offering free credits that can be redeemed for bonuses in games like Hawken, Planetside 2 and World Of Tanks. But what is the real value of these credits? How do they stack up to Never Settle? And should you really let free games become a factor when deciding which card to buy?
The Real Value Of AMD’s Never Settle
AMD’s Never Settle bundle is available on graphics cards from the 7770 series and up. Here are the games currently offered and their approximate retail value based on the game’s standard price on Steam or Origin (whichever applies).
- Radeon HD 7770: Far Cry 3, Far Cry: Blood Dragon (Value: $64.98)
- Radeon HD 7790: Bioshock Infinite, Far Cry: Blood Dragon (Value: $74.98)
- Radeon HD 7800 Series: Bioshock Infinite, Tomb Raider, Far Cry : Blood Dragon (Value: $124.97)
- Radeon HD 7900 Series: Bioshock Infinite, Crysis 3, Far Cry: Blood Dragon (Value: $134.97)
Here’s the value of each of the video card game bundles found with each card relative to the average retail price of the card the bundle is paired with.
- Radeon HD 7770: 54% of the card’s $120 retail price
- Radeon HD 7790: 50% of the card’s $150 retail price
- Radeon HD 7850: 68% of the card’s $219 retail price
- Radeon HD 7870: 52% of the card’s $239 retail price
- Radeon HD 7950: 45% of the card’s $299 retail price
- Radeon HD 7970: 33% of the card’s $399 retail price
The sweet spot is clearly in the middle of the range, but all of the cards below the 7900 series offer 50% of their retail value in free games. Of course, these numbers may vary depending on your region, as the Never Settle bundle is a worldwide offer.
Never Settle is only available through certain retailers, most of which are online, so make sure a retailer participates in the bundle before buying. You might also be able to grab the bundle if you purchase a custom PC because several boutique manufacturers, like Falcon Northwest, Velocity Micro and Digital Storm, pass the Never Settle bundle on to consumers who purchase a custom rig with an eligible AMD card.
The Real Value Of Nvidia’s Free-To-Play Bundle
The Nvidia free-to-play bundle is available to gamers who buy a GeForce GTX 650 graphics cards at participating retailers. The deal used to be available for the GeForce GTX 660, but that offer didn’t last long. The bundle provides $75 in total in-game credit, $25 for each game (Hawken, Planetside 2 and World of Tanks). Gamers also receive a free Technician mech for Hawken and a useless decal in Planetside 2.
The GTX 650 retails for about $119 at most online retailers, so a $75 bundle translates to 63% of the card’s retail price, which almost matches AMD’s best Never Settle bundle. The credits are in free-to-play currency, however, so do they really add up the way Nvidia claims?
Let’s handle World Of Tanks first. Nvidia provides 2050 in-game gold. Sounds like a lot, but gamers can buy 3000 gold for $14.95, so 2050 is only worth about $10.25. A one-month premium account is also included, and that goes for 2500 in-game gold, or $12.50. That adds up to $22.75, a bit shy of the $25 claimed.
Next up is Planetside 2. Buying the GTX 650 entitles you to 2500 station cash, which is worth $25. You also get a dorky decal, which isn’t worth a dime. But at least Nvidia’s claim is correct.
Finally, buyers receive 3600 Meteor Credits for Hawken. This once again directly translates to $25. But Nvidia also provides the Technician mech, which is not normally unlocked and costs 720 Meteor Credits; about $5. So that’s actually a $30 value, making the total value a bit more than the claimed $75.
Overall, the free-to-play bundle stacks up well against AMD’s Never Settle. It’s just a shame that Nvidia doesn’t offer similar bundles with more expensive cards.
Should These Bundles Sway Your Purchase?
To be brief; absolutely!
The battle between AMD and Nvidia has always been close. At times it sways in one direction or the other, and at the moment most video cards from each company are in a dead heat. Each side has advantages in certain games, but they’re usually small, (on the order of 10 percent or less) when cards of similar price are compared. Deciding based on drivers is difficult, too, as both companies work with game developers to squeeze more performance from existing hardware.
A video card will last much longer than a game, so buying based on a bundle may seem silly. But with the race between products being so close, the video card game bundle can make the difference. Why buy a card without a bundle when another option offers similar performance, price, and three great games?
Keep an eye on price because the bundles usually don’t change when hardware prices decrease or a card goes on sale. To determine the value of a bundle, add up the price of the bundled games you don’t already own, and then divide that number by the price of the card you’re considering. The result is the bundle’s value; the higher the better. A calculator and two minutes are all you need to make a choice.