Cryptocurrencies, digital currencies, are currently the hot new thing. Think of them as the latest gold rush. Everyone is attempting to see if they can mine these items that offer a sort of monetary worth and value that can not be confiscated or restricted. Except, they’re essentially a sort of imaginary, unregulated money. We are in situations where the entire value of things can rise and fall if certain bitcoin billionaires decide to cash out.
Think of it this way. Kristoffer Koch got 5,000 bitcoins for $27 in 2009. In December 2017, one bitcoin was worth $17,900. In February 2018, the price dropped down to $6,200. On March 1, 2018, the day I wrote this, one bitcoin was worth about $10,000. There is a bubble here, one that could very easily pop. We already know that Valve decided it would no longer accept bitcoins as a form of payment starting in December 2017, due to the volatile nature of the currency and its constant fluctuation. Stripe, a major payment company, stopped supporting bitcoin in January 2018. But what other effects would a bitcoin bubble bursting have on gaming?
Well, it would definitely have an impact on graphics cards if the cryptocurrency bubble decided to burst in 2018. Have you tried checking a Fry’s Electronics or equivalent store for an AMD or Nvidia card? You probably were greeted by empty shelves. In 2017, $776 million worth of graphics cards, which would come out to over three million of them, were sold to people who wanted to mine cryptocurrency like bitcoins. Prices were jacked up on Craigslist and eBay. Gamers still buy the most cards, but that is still an insane number. If that bubble bursts, then what happens to all the graphics cards?
We would probably see an influx of high quality, used graphics cards on secondhand markets. Which would be great for PC gamers! It would mean an opportunity to get some upgrades at possibly a good price or maybe even spur them on to build new computers. It might be bad for companies like AMD and Nvidia, though, as they probably would have gone into 2018 with production forecasts that relied on bitcoin miners continuing to mine, and could result in them taking financial hits and perhaps needing to scale back in future years.
More stores that currently accept bitcoin could stop, leaving gamers with fewer places to spend it. Microsoft already gave folks a scare. It currently accepts bitcoin in its Microsoft Store for payment. However, there was a brief period in January 2018 when it did not. Considering there was also a temporary hiccup in March 2016 where it said it would not accept bitcoin, then apologized and said it still would, makes its support feel a bit unstable. Perhaps sites like Newegg would stop too. Should the cryptocurrency bubble burst, people who invested in bitcoins could find themselves with virtual currency left, but no place to spend it.
Older gamers who have been really trying their luck with bitcoins and using them in online casinos could find themselves really out of luck. Once the bubble bursts, we will probably see a lot of these close up shop. People who have been attempting to earn cryptocurrency, then risk it in online casino games to possibly increase their money, will be in the same position as those who were hoping to spend the contents of their wallets in stores like Steam: out of luck.
Bitcoin, and cryptocurrencies in general, are not stable. Things have been built up so high. Folks are pinning too much on this being a get rich quick scheme and ticket to success. But there is no guarantee of any sort of success. If anything, some sort of explosion is looming that could take the whole system out and leave a lot of people with nothing. As for gamers, it could impact anyone who plays online casino games, those who were hoping to spend their bitcoins in certain stores, or is shopping around for a graphics card. Let’s hope for the best, but be ready for the worst.