Does Steam Finally Have Some Competition?
As we all know, digital game sales have begun to tower over physical competitors. They have increased, but especially in the case of PC games. More and more gamers are opting to buy their PC games online in a number of different ways. This includes directly from publishers, through bundle sites, key resale sites, and of course platforms like Steam. As it turns out, there's a new kid coming up. Valve has cornered the market for quite some time, but this new competitor might just chip away at the loyal customer count.
This up and coming rival is called Robot Cache. The platform is already set to release some time the second quarter of 2018 and might give Steam a run for its money. On the surface, it seems much like any other platform. Robot Cache users will be able to buy games using credits, much like your Steam Wallet. An interesting difference from the get-go here is the amount of money that publishers will get from your purchase of games. Normally, publishers are charged a 30% distribution fee from platforms like Steam. Robot Cache will only charge 5%. Part of this is due to the fact that Robot Cache will take another 5% when a game is resold. You read that right; Robot Cache will allow gamers to resell their digital games.
Publishers will already get a break from Robot Cache on the initial distribution fees, but they will also make money from the resale of their games. When a Robot Cache gamer resells a digital game, they'll get 25% of the profits, publishers will get 70%, and Robot Cache gets 5%. This will undoubtedly draw a lot of publishers to the Robot Cache platform. Not only will they get paid more for the original sale, they also have potential future profits from games. This is equally good for the gamers, because having access to all kinds of different publishers means more games to buy and play!
The resale option is also fantastic for gamers. Imagine all the games that you've bought over the years on Steam. I am willing to bet that there are at least a few that you haven't played or played and realized it wasn't for you. They all begin to add up, cluttering your library and wasting space. If you had the option to take those games that you didn't enjoy or that you simply haven't played and make some money off them, you'd take advantage of it! Sure, you'd only get 25% of the money, but that's better than the shame of that title looking at you every day, shaking its head because you never played it.
While the simple ability to resell digital games is already fantastic and incredibly welcome, we do need to look at Robot Cache as a whole. The thing to consider is that it is built on the back of a cryptocurrency giant. Steam Wallets are technically virtual currency that you can use to buy games. All of Steam Wallet money is generated from real life currency. When you put money on your account, cash in a gift card, or sell some Steam trading cards, all of those dollars are generated from real money put into the system by a real person. Robot Cache's currency is going to be IRON, a virtual token which is essentially the equal to Ethereum. If you haven't heard of Ethereum, then you've probably heard of Bitcoin. It's a bit like that.
Robot Cache's IRON will be generated and sold ahead of the platform's launch. IRON will be the currency within the system that fuels everything. When you buy a game, it will take IRON, and when you sell a game you will receive IRON. You can also opt-in to mine for IRON with your gaming PC, which will reward you IRON when you reach certain milestones. It's hard to say how this will affect users and the system's creators. The biggest problem currently with cryptocurrencies is the simple fact that its worth is not stable. This could potentially lead to a confusing and complicated market with widely varying prices for titles. Users who better understand the system might be able to benefit more than those who still aren't knowledgeable.
I was incredibly interested in Robot Cache when I first heard it was going to be essentially Steam with digital game resales as an added bonus. I was even still interested when I heard it was going to be fueled by cryptocurrency. However, it really seems like a case where waiting and learning from others' experiences could end up being the best option. As the average gamer who doesn't have a ton of money to dump into new platforms, I'm going to be excited about the system from afar. If it looks like Robot Cache really has its users' happiness and best interests at heart, then I might start considering it more seriously.
No matter how Robot Cache's future works out, its inception no doubt has Valve's higher ups thinking. The advent of a system that allows for digital resales will have consumers wanting for more when it comes to Steam. Will the pressure lead to digital resales on Steam? We can only wait and see.