AMD makes a bold move to entice gamers

Play games, win schwag? Sounds like a good deal if the freebies are actually obtainable.

AMD has announced the AMD Rewards Program, a loyalist program for AMD graphics card users that will give them a chance to earn and redeem points that can be applied to acquire new hardware.

The company announced the program in a blog post where it outlined how people can earn Raptr Points (RP) and promising more will be added.

AMD GPU users simple download and run the AMD Gaming Evolved application that's designed to maximize the user experience in popular gamers by optimizing settings based on the user's hardware. Nvidia has something similar with its GeForce Experience app, which also optimizes game settings based on your card, memory and CPU.

Some games already determine the user's hardware and optimize their settings based on what they find, but most don't. They simply detect the screen resolution and default to the lowest setting for everything else. The card makers do a more complete job of looking at the hardware on a gamer's rig and setting up the game to run at its best.

The AMD Gaming Evolved app does all that plus it notifies the user of new drivers and has in-game tools like chat, Web-browsing, live streaming and more. Players can earn points by using the app to play their favorite games, optimize setting for those games, or interact with the community.

All of these points can be redeemed for AMD Rewards in the Raptr store, which is available only through the Rewards app. Among the rewards: a headset from ASTRO Gaming; GUNNAR Optiks is offering a discount on gaming eyewear; Sapphire Technology has several R7 and R9 graphics cards; GameFly is offering free subscriptions and an exclusive discount on Raptr’s Top PC Games of 2013.

However, don't think you will walk off with expensive goodies that easily. You can earn up to 25 points per day for game play, and the graphics cards are running from 35,000 to 80,000 RP. Games, though, are around 5,000 RP.

One thing about gamers, they tend to jump between Nvidia and AMD GPUs a lot more frequently than they do Intel and AMD for CPUs. Part of that is convenience; if I replaced my Intel motherboard setup with one from AMD, I would have to reinstall Windows, and that's not fun. Cards are easier to swap.

So I can see why AMD is doing this; call them golden handcuffs. A way to tie players to the platform but in an appealing way. The question is whether it will work. A Sapphire R7 260 runs $139.99 new or 35,000 RP, which would take months to accumulate. If people don't see a payoff within a reasonable time frame, they will bail on the program.

And we'll know if it's working if and when Nvidia adopts a similar program.

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