Digital ownership tends to be a bit complicated, especially regarding video games. Gamers have many options when purchasing form digital retailers, from Steam and Denuvo keys to DRM-free standalone executables. As digital became the norm and prices for digital games dropped thanks to sites like Fanatical (formerly Bundle Stars) and Humble Bundle, many gamers find themselves with extra copies of games they will likely never use.
Naturally, markets will open whenever there is a demand for a service, and potentially unscrupulous sites like G2A popped up, allowing users to sell or trade their extra game keys. A new upcoming gaming platform, Robot Cache, will allow users resell their games using “Iron”, a built-in, mineable cryptocurrency. Robot Cache is the brainchild of inXile CEO Brian Fargo and former Atari exec Lee Jacobson.
“Each used game sale gives 25 percent of the proceeds to the seller and 70 percent to the developers and publishers.”
Using blockchain technology, unchangeable records are kept for who owns a specific copy of a game. Each used game sale gives 25 percent of the proceeds to the seller and 70 percent to the developers and publishers. Additionally, new game sales give a whopping 95 percent of the sale to developers and publishers compared to Steam’s 70 percent.
When games are resold, users will be paid in Iron, which can be exchanged for cash or used to buy games. As with any currency, (especially the crypto variety) Iron’s value is likely to fluctuate over time. Rampant cryptocurrency mining is already causing problems like high energy usage and skyrocketing GPU prices, so there is potential for a crash in Robot Cache’s digital market somewhere down the line.
Robot Cache is still finalizing the process for deciding which games appear in their catalog, but they do intend to curate their games. A representative told Kotaku “almost all the devs they have on board already agree that some kind of bar would be helpful to make discoverability easier and to ensure no malware."
“With its rampant piracy, PC as a platform has always had a problem with used game sales compared to home consoles.”
With its rampant piracy, PC as a platform has always had a problem with used game sales compared to home consoles. The complete lack of a physical disc in most cases makes lending a game to a friend for the weekend harder than it needs to be. I don’t expect Robot Cache to revolutionize used PC game sales, especially if it’s marketing with the cryptocurrency fad in mind. For now, I’ll just have to hold on to my extra Steam keys.