New Steam Competitor Will Let Users Resell Games

At this point, Steam allows users to sell almost everything, except full games. In the absence of such functionality, sketchy key resale sites like G2A have come to thrive. It will be interesting to see if a new PC gaming storefront called Robot Cache can put a dent in that when it launches later this year.

Robot Cache, an upcoming platform from inXile CEO Brian Fargo and former Atari exec Lee Jacobson, aims to set itself apart from Valve's 363kg gorilla in two key ways: resellable games, and a built-in, minable cryptocurrency called "Iron." Also, its website uses the word "disrupt" more than any other PC gaming platform I've ever encountered.

You'll be able to resell games thanks to blockchain technology, which generates a record that cannot be changed and is used by many modern cryptocurrencies for record-keeping. Each sale will net you 25 per cent of the proceeds, with 70 per cent going to developers and publishers, who'll also get a whopping 95 per cent of proceeds from sales of new games compared to Steam's 70 per cent cut.

When you resell games, you'll be paid in Iron, which you can exchange for cash or use to buy more games. Presumably, though, the value of Iron will be subject to fluctuations in Robot Cache's self-created market, which makes the whole thing less of a sure bet than it might seem on its face.

Robot Cache is still finalising how exactly games will be selected to appear on the platform, but a rep tells me there'll be curation involved. "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," he said in an email.

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Comments

    On face value it sounds interesting to say the least, but I think allowing people to mine their own Iron is a mistake. The benefits of the blockchain are neat, but if someone mines the hell out of Iron and buys up lots of games, where's the real money going to the developers coming from? Or are they also going to be paid in Iron...

    Yeah no thanks. Make it cash back or nothing. Making it their own currency means they want to exploit you.

      It's not like Disney Dollars, it's a cash backed asset, so it is money as long as people are willing to put money in.

      In saying that, the exploitation is still very real.
      They will take a fee at every corner from conversion to/from "Iron" and on the buying and selling of the game.
      It's not about amassing wealth through traditional profit but driving up the worth of an asset, turning all they cents they have in to dollars and then hundreds of.

      I can't actually see how it can remain viable over a long period of time without looking through their model, I'm wondering if they are hoping the games themselves will stabilise the crypto by anchoring it to standard retail prices.
      Or they will be pushing for micro bubble they eventually come out well on top of.

        Tp @Vanit's point - it's a mineable cryptocurrency. If all the games are being purchased with mined Iron, where is the money coming from to pay devs?

        The crypto element doesn't make any sense to me. Plus, I reckon if they gain enough traction to prove the resale business model, Steam will add it and kill this off overnight.

    Presumably, though, the value of Iron will be subject to fluctuations in Robot Cache's self-created market, which makes the whole thing less of a sure bet than it might seem on its face.

    But maybe I'll get $20000 for my used copy of Happy Hampster's Big Adventure.

    Woot! I'm gonna be rich!!

    "and a built-in, minable cryptocurrency called "Iron.""

    and that is where it lost my interest.

    "Each sale will net you 25 per cent of the proceeds, with 70 per cent going to developers and publishers, who'll also get a whopping 95 per cent of proceeds..."

    What happens to the other 5 percent in each case? Goes to Robot Cache?

      That's how all these things work. Steam takes a 30% cut of new games, so this shouldn't be an issue.

    Why exactly do they need to use a blockchain though? Which part of the platform is actually decentralised requiring that kind of design?

    From the sound of it, they're the only ones who would be selling games, so wouldn't a simple centrally managed ledger work just as well? Unless they envisioned a system where you could buy a game on Robot Cache and sell it on Steam (or vice versa), it doesn't look like you need a distributed trust system like that.

    From a quick read down the page, it seems the blockchain stuff is really just tacked on the side as a way to run the flavour of the month unregulated investment vehicle: the Initial Coin Offering.

    And it's not at all clear that these coins will have any value outside of the game store. Presumably Robot Cache will sell their games for real money as well as Iron. And presumably they will be able to effectively create more Iron at will to "buy back" game licenses.

    Now presumably there will be an exchange somewhere that lets people buy and sell Iron in exchange for real money. If I'm primarily interested in buying a game, then it only makes sense for me to buy Iron if the Iron price of a game is less than the dollar price. And that means that any attempts to cash out the Iron you receive from selling a game will be at a discount.

    Iron might end up being slightly more valuable than store credit, but not by much. I wouldn't trust it as an investment, since presumably Robot Cache can effectively unilaterally change the value of the currency at will.

      On further inspection, Robot Cache can't create new Iron themselves: they're just keeping two thirds of the Iron to themselves in the ICO. If they ever ran out of their supply when buying back game licenses, they'd presumably have to buy other people's Iron on the exchange.

      But that price is going to be heavily influenced by whatever exchange rate the Robot Cache store offers, so it isn't clear that that will help the investors recoup their funds. The only way I can see that happening is if they purposely introduce inflation in the game store prices, so customers are encouraged to quickly spend their Iron or cash out.

    Blockchains and artificially resuppliable markets do not mix.
    With a blockchain, you aren't supposed to be able to inject more supply into the chain.

    It'd be better to just have it stored in a centralized server saying "X owns Y", and "Y has been resold by Z to X" and so on.

    Last edited 18/01/18 9:03 pm

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