PC Gamers Vs. Cryptocurrency Miners – Who Will Win?
By Nate VanLindt On 5 Feb, 2018 At 01:22 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, PC Games | With 0 Comments

I’ve been saving up to build a PC.  I’ve been planning to make a high-end Windows system with a monster graphics card, solid state drives, and tons of RAM.  But alas, my hopes and dreams have been dashed by an unlikely source.  Cryptocurrency.  It turns out that cryptocurrency’s skyrocketing values have turned gaming PCs into a commodity rather than an elite gamer’s exclusive domain.  Ethereum,  Litecoin, and other crypto miners are buying up graphics cards at a phenomenal rate.  They’re also gobbling up the reserves of DDR4 RAM out there.   High end graphics cards apparently crunch numbers like nobody’s business and they’re designed to do so.  Who knew?

Well, all of us PC gamers did.  That was the whole point of making graphics cards so powerful.   There are few things as satisfying as cranking all the graphics settings on a game like Doom or Crysis to Ultra and enjoying all the details you lose in the console versions.  Gaming has been catering to an elite demographic in the form of PC gamers for quite some time.  But our thirst for power has caught up with us.

This is a photo of a local computer store that one of my friends works at.  Miners have literally cleaned the shelves of graphics cards.  Every time a new shipment comes in, they’re immediately sold out.  And the prices.  Oh, the prices.  A GTX GeForce 1080 Ti graphics card with 11 GB of RAM retails at $699.00 + tax.  But good luck finding one for that.  They’re selling at around $1300 right now.  Almost double retail!  Other versions of the 1080 Ti are selling as high as $1500.  Prices are through the roof on almost all high-end graphics cards, and there seems to be no end in sight.  In fact, demand is so high, that there are literally global shortages of 1080 Ti and 1070 Ti graphics cards and RAM isn’t far behind!

So what does this mean for gamers?  For me it means I can’t build a new PC.  That means I won’t be buying any high-end PC titles in the near future either. I have about $2200 set aside for my new PC, and I was planning to spend about $2800 on the system, but literally half of that would be eaten up by the graphics card and a fair bit more by the RAM.   At those prices, I’ve decided not to bother.  But hey, I’m one guy, right?  None of my friends will be building PCs anytime soon either due to these prices though.  And that means they won’t be buying PC games.   This is just the beginning of a snowball effect that cryptocurrency is causing.  Less gamers buying less games and less computer parts means that the parts companies don’t make as much money.  And the game developers don’t make as much money.  In the end, if this continued long enough, it would have a significant impact on whether games are ported to PCs at all.

Luckily, in the last week we’ve seen a huge crash in the global cryptocurrency market.  Most major cryptocurrencies plummeted by up to 50%.  Warren Buffet has stated that cryptocurrency is a bad investment and many other investment tycoons have followed suit.  China and North Korea are attempting to regulate crypto markets or outright ban crypto exchanges, and virtually every government is rushing to examine how they can profit off of income received outside of normal channels.  Make no mistake, at some point, cryptocurrency will end up being regulated, just like everything else in the world.

But for now, all we can do is wait and see how things pan out.  You can be sure the gaming community is holding its collective breath waiting to see when this trend will end.  From gamers all the way up to corporations, this will affect the entire industry soon and not in a good way.  Let’s all just hope that the crash comes before the hardware companies decide that $1500 is the new $500.  With any luck, the crypto craze will die out and go the way of Beanie Babies and Tickle Me Elmo dolls.  I for one can’t wait for the crash.

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