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Is a Sharing Economy the Next Big Thing for Video Games?

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For the world of business, disruption has become synonymous with success. Uber and Lyft have disrupted transportation, AirBnB has changed how we travel, and music services like Pandora and Spotify have fundamentally changed how people listen to music.

Creating a sharing economy is one major way disruptive businesses can make waves in an industry. Many people are actively looking to buy a used version of a product for cheaper, or willing to rent something for a short term rather than purchasing it. It’s not just products that get shared though, sharing economies can include sharing talents, money, or sharing data with others.

The Power of Crowdfunding in Games

One example of a shared economy already part of the gaming industry is crowdfunding to pay for the development of a video game. By approaching fans of a genre, the creators can raise the money necessary to make the game, at least enough to attract a publisher to help fund it the rest of the way.

Many niche indie games (like “Shovel Knight” and “SuperHot”) can find good success by crowdfunding their games, but for larger projects, they rarely find success. Either they run out of money, putting the project on pause indefinitely; or are released, only to be deemed failures by the gaming society. Look no further than “Mighty No. 9” for a project that was crowdfunded successfully, but pretty universally disliked by gamers.

The Buying and Selling of Used Games, Both Physical and Digital

Buying, selling, and renting games has been a part of the gaming industry since the days of the original Nintendo, but has decreased as the years have passed. Now, only specific retailers focus on selling used copies of games, and only physical copies at that. If you buy a digital version of a game, there is no way to sell it once it’s redeemed on your account.

One company, though, is out to change that, especially for PC gaming. Robot Cache is planning on disrupting the digital games market that’s basically been dominated by Steam for over a decade. With Steam, you buy a game (or more accurately the license to play the game) and own it forever. With Robot Cache though, after you buy a game, you can later sell it back to Robot Cache for a portion of its original worth, and either get cash back or invest it into their own cryptocurrency. That cryptocurrency can then be used to buy other games or just grow in value.

One of the biggest benefits to Robot Cache is that when a “used” copy of a game is purchased, a portion of the sales go back to the original publisher/developer. Many game companies dislike Gamestop’s used game business model because they don’t get any extra revenue, but with Robot Cache’s model, they will. A single license for a game could be purchased multiple times, meaning extra money in the pockets of all. Already, many big name publishers are on-board with Robot Cache, looking to shake up the digital games market.

Talent Sharing for Game Development

Being a game developer is not an easy career to go into. Unless you get hired by a major developer, it’s likely that after a game you work on is finished, you lose your job. Then, you have to hunt for a new job to pay for you full time.

Talent sharing, though, is one solution that could give many skilled developers extra money in-between jobs and give smaller studios access to skilled game creators without hiring them full time. It could serve as a way for beginner game designers to gain experience in the industry.

One part of game development that has really been growing is the creation and sale of video game assets. This sharing economy can give smaller developers access to high budget assets for games, making it a lot easier to produce high quality games. This part of the game industries will only grow more, making game development much more accessible and letting smaller studios create more competitive games.

Disruption is Good for Gaming

Without disruption, industries become complacent and take advantage of consumers. For too long, the game industry has been controlled by it’s titans, and disruptions will be good to change it up. This will only mean better customer service, higher quality games, less scams like loot boxes or frivolous DLCs, and more fun in the world of gaming.

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The Author

Ben Allen

Ben Allen

Champion of Hyrule, defender of space, bane of demons, savior of light, and occasional pizza eater.