Is Bitcoin Ruining PC Gaming?
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Cryptocurrency might not be the first topic to pop into most people's heads when they think about video games. There are plenty of concerns related to regular money, why complicate it with fake money, right? The choice isn't really available for one faction of gamers, though. Anyone who plays on a PC has most likely run into cryptocurrency issues that aren't related to buying or selling the digital funds. Those looking to build or upgrade their PC gaming rigs have noticed a shortage or overpricing of one particular component. Graphics cards from companies like Nvidia or AMD have been almost completely commandeered by the cryptocurrency crowd.

Cryptocurrency is generated by computers, and the processing requires a lot of power. Specifically, the kind of power that can be offered up by high-end graphics cards. The creation of cryptocurrency is referred to as mining, and those that wish to mine the currency themselves have found Nvidida and AMD graphics cards to offer a huge boost to their efforts. Those looking to own their own Bitcoin or Ethereum without dropping down huge sacks of cash are buying up all the graphics cards they can get their hands on. Super powerful ones, like the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070, 1080, and 1080 Ti, have been almost completely unattainable. The same is true for the AMD Radeon RX 570, 580, Vega 56, and Vega 64. When these are available, they're getting snatched up by miners, and the ones left over are selling for extremely hiked up prices.

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The problem isn't only in the most powerful cards. Even the lower-end ones are being bought up left and right. Those looking to build their own PC might have to settle on a GTX 1050 or 1060, but they'll be paying out the nose. The price hikes and supply problems seem to have finally reached the ears of the very creators of said graphics cards. Nvidia themselves have even reached out to retailers to attempt to curb the problem. Boris Böhles, the German PR manager for Nvidia, said, “Gamers come first for Nvidia.” He urged retailers to find ways to curb cryptocurrency miners from buying up all of their graphics cards. Limits have been enacted to try to stop bulk orders, but supply and pricing problems still remain. Unfortunately, the trend doesn't seem like it's going to end any time soon, even with Bitcoin and Ethereum prices fluctuating faster than a roller coaster.

It's admirable that companies like Nvidia are recognizing the problem and trying to come up with solutions with graphics card sellers. But something drastic has got to give in order to save PC gamers. The limits have clearly not worked, and telling retailers to not sell to miners will only do so much. It's easy enough for anyone on the Internet to assure sellers that they're using it for a PC build, but then instead turn around and mine cryptocurrency. There are probably other rules that could be enacted to further attempt to return cards to the hands of real gamers. No easy solution has revealed itself yet though.  

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It's a shame that something like cryptocurrency has impacted the gaming community so negatively. Many possibly don't even realize how big the problem is. Nvidia's GTX 1070 graphics card normally sells for $380, but right now it is out of stock from most major retailers. It's accessible through third party sellers, but for massively inflated prices like $900! If something isn't done soon, this could have intense rippling effects on the PC gaming community as a whole. If anything we have to make sure to signal boost the issue so those working for companies like Nvidia/AMD, or major retailers take things more seriously. Clearly, Nvidia has been the first to pick up that torch, but we need to keep it going. A solution must be reached to keep this from continuing seemingly endlessly.

What do you think? Have any ideas on what can be done to get graphics cards back in gaming PCs instead of mining rigs? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

April Marie
April Marie
@Legiodith

Contributing Writer
Date: 01/30/2018

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