Robot Cache, a new PC games storefront and Steam competitor - which describes itself as the "first decentralised PC video game distribution platform" - has been unveiled.
The service is founded by InExile Entertainment boss Brian Fargo, and arrives with much talk of cutting-edge technology and ambitious features, not least of which is the fact that it claims to be the first online games storefront to allow players to sell their used games - with one big caveat.
Roughly, the idea is that by using blockchain technology to decentralise the service, Robot Cache is able to radically reduce its operating costs and, thus, reduce the fees that publishers and developers must pay. "Everyone from the smallest indie team to the biggest publishers, will retain up to 95 per cent of the sales proceeds, which is 25% higher than the current industry standard", it says. Steam, for instance, currently takes a 30 per cent cut of revenue.
That's how Robot Cache intends to get publishers and developers onboard, but what about consumers, who might already be perfectly satisfied with the likes of GOG and Steam? That's where game resales come in. Robot Cache will allow players to sell their games once they've finished with them - as long as they were purchased from the store.
To ensure that publishers don't immediately balk at the concept, Robot Cache will allow publishers to set the resale price of games, and the blockchain system is able to offer assurances that the store won't be flooded with unauthorised duplicates.
Crucially too, Robot Cache says that publishers will receive 70 per cent of the resale proceeds, while players receive a 25 per cent cut of the revenue. That big caveat, however, is that a reseller's payment comes in the form of IRON - Robot Cache's new cryptocurrency. This can then be used to purchase new games.
IRON appears to be central to Robot Cache's economy, and users can earn additional IRON by opting in to "mine" more cryptocurrency. There's a lot more information about IRON over on its official website, if you have a decent grasp on that kind of thing.
Robot Cache says that it "expects to offer the latest and greatest video games" when it launches in the second quarter of 2018. Whether its plethora of hi-tech features and points of difference will be enough to draw publishers, developers, and buyers away from their preferred games storefronts, however, remains to be seen.
Will you support Eurogamer?