Robot Cache Digital Video Game Platform Announced

Following numerous cryptocurrency-related social media posts over the past several months, inXile Entertainment founder (and former Interplay CEO) Brian Fargo, veteran designer Chris Keenan, Atari creator Nolan Bushnell, and a handful of others have finally revealed Robot Cache, a decentralized digital game resale platform that'll be powered by the Ethereum blockchain. In short, this means that you'll be able to mine currency (IRON coins) to buy games on the platform and have the option to re-sell your existing digital games (with a cut going to the publisher) when you no longer have use for them.

inXile's own games will no doubt be on the platform when it debuts, but according to this feature on Forbes, there will be "several hundred" games available at launch - and I suspect that Obsidian Entertainment might be one of the initial publishers supporting it given Feargus' partnerships with Brian in the past:
Robot Cache was conceived by someone PC gamers should be familiar with: Brian Fargo, the founder of Interplay and InXile Entertainment and the man behind game franchises like Fallout, Wasteland, and Baldur's Gate. Robot Cache's other key players include Lee Jacobson (CEO), an entertainment executive who's driven operations for Virgin Entertainment and Viacom, as well as Philippe Erwin (SVP, Business Development), who has held senior executive positions at several Fortune 500 companies including Warner Bros. and Activision Blizzard.

Steam is a giant in the PC gaming space, earning Valve $3.5 billion in revenue during 2016. While alternatives do exist, it's pretty much the only game in town for visibility, mind share, and the sheer size of its user base. But Robot Cache isn't pleased with the lack of flexibility it gives to PC gamers, nor with the revenue given to developers and publishers. Valve takes 30% of each title sold, where Robot Cache promises to funnel "up to" 95% (the criteria upon which isn't clear at press time) to developers and publishers.

While that's undoubtedly attractive to the people making and selling the games, gamers themselves can look forward to a very exciting and potentially revolutionary option: reselling the digital games they're finished with. On Robot Cache's digital resale market, gamers will get back 25% of the purchase price (which is dictated by the publisher), and the developer or publisher will get 70%. It's worth mentioning that in 2016, GameStop earned a staggering $9.36 billion on the sale of used physical games, and publishers didn't see a cent of that, so its a notable incentive.

Here's the fascinating catch: that 25% you get for selling your "used" digital title is rewarded in the form of IRON, a brand new CryptoCurrency coin (with a soft cap of $15,000,000) created by the Robot Cache team. Think of it as a form of in-game currency which can be used to buy new games, but also can be cashed out, likely through a Crypto exchange like Coinbase or similar, then deposited into your bank account or PayPal.

Using the Robot Cache software, you can even put your gaming PC to work for you and have it mine IRON automatically. But IRON is basically a cryptocurrency locked to the Robot Cache ecosystem, which means the mining client is has to be contributing its hashing power to an existing altcoin. Via email, Brian Fargo confirmed that the software will be mining Ethereum at launch, but it may change over time. Will the built-in mining software auto-switch to whatever the most profitable coin is at the time to maximize earnings for both company and gamer? How long will it take me to mine for a new game with the GPU in my PC? That remains to be seen, but I love that this is even an option.

A large and active user base could make or break a platform like this, and my biggest question for Fargo was how many titles we'll see on Robot Cache when it launches in Q2 2018. "We are in the final contract stage with a number of publishers and expect to have several hundred games available at launch," Fargo says. Well hey, Steam only launched with a handful of titles so it's a good start.