nVidia seems to have made good use of its multimillion dollar investement in securing games. Much of that money has gone into getting games to adopt Shader Model 3.0 and a list, revealed on NVNews and subsequently removed, indicated that quite a few titles will support the controversial SM 3.0.
If this extensive list of titles proves to be correct then ATIs main argument, that it is too early to adopt SM 3.0 and that SM 2.0b is good enough, will no loger be valid. This list however, also puts ATIs choice to unleash the R520 in 2005 with SM 3.0 support into perspective. The Canadians, it seems, plan to use nVidias investment to their advantage.
The plot thickens however as one title is, controversially, included in nVidia's SM 3.0 list: Half-Life 2. It could be that since Valve will release the game in late September and since 3-4 months later ATI will support SM 3.0, the companies have agreed to use it in H-L 2. If that is the case nVidia will get a good 6 month window of being the only company with boards available that fully support Half-Life 2. Unless, of course, SM 3.0 support is released as a patch only after ATI releases its R520 boards. Confused? They probably want you to be, makes choosing a card a more emotional process than it should be.
However Half-Life 2 SM 3.0 support works out, nVidia seems to have made very good use of its money and the list of games was impressive. Titles included Lord of the rings: Battle for the middle earth, Stalker: Shadows of Chernobyl, Splinter Cell 3, Tiger Woods 2005, Vampire: Bloodlines, Tiger Woods 2005, Madden 2005, Driver 3.0, Grafan, Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault, Patched Painkiller and patched Far cry.
If ATI makes the slightest mistake in the timing and supply of the R520, it stands to fall behind nVidia in a way which could severly damage its challenge on its rivals marketshare.