Should Video Games Use Unutilized Computer Resources to Mine Cryptocurrency?

The topic of mining cryptocurrency using other people’s browsers has been met with a lot of opposition. That is only normal, as none of the platforms experimenting with such solutions have allowed users to opt out of mining. While it is understandable that new revenue models would be explored, using JavaScript to mine Monero or any other currency is invasive. Interestingly enough, the video game industry may eventually embrace a similar business model in the future.

Video Games Capable of Mining Cryptocurrency?

The concept proposed on the Gamedev subreddit sounds a bit ludicrous at first. Mining cryptocurrency of any kind is an intensive process which burdens both the CPU and GPU of any computer. In some cases, the resource usage can spike and cause the computer to slow down tremendously. Combining the concept with video games – which also stress CPU and GPU resources – seems like taking a few steps backward. Competition over computing resources will not result in developers making any substantial profits whatsoever.

Although no game developer has shown any interest in pursuing this route, the discussion itself is pretty interesting. Some people feel that game developers make enough money as it is, especially when hiding portions of in-game content behind microtransactions or future DLC packages. At the same time, there are plenty of game studios which do things differently and release free-to-play games with in-game purchase options which aren’t even mandatory to use.

While it is true not every video game utilizes 100% of CPU and GPU resources, that doesn’t mean cryptocurrency mining is a viable option. After all, using someone else’s resources for that purpose without explicit permission will always be considered highly controversial at best. It is certainly true this business model would remove the need for advertisements or even microtransactions in the future. That is what some people would like to see happen, anyway.

Most of the responses to this train of thought haven’t exactly been positive by any means. Most gamers would be more than happy to pay for content they enjoy without having to worry about developers trying to “steal” their computing resources. Moreover, people with older generations of computer hardware would be scrutinized, as their systems often expend a lot more resources on just getting the game to run with the proper settings.

To various indie game developers, having their games mine cryptocurrecy in the background may seem more appealing than the other options currently available. If this were to turn into a lucrative business model, gamers themselves would still benefit in one way or another. The bigger question is whether such a decision could be considered an ethical one. It is a dark gray area for all intents and purposes right now; that much no one will argue with.

Exploring this option could indeed be worth the effort in the end. However, game developers will first have to come up with some clever ways to properly divide CPU and GPU resources for both the game and their mining business on the side. After all, people want to play the game first and foremost, which means the mining process shouldn’t be a bottleneck in this regard. Those users who prefer to play in 4K resolution with everything maxed out have very few resources to spare for mining cryptocurrency.

One thing most people tend to overlook is how mining cryptocurrency isn’t all that profitable in the first place. Even with thousands of normal computers doing the work on one’s behalf, it wouldn’t matter all that much. Mining difficulty adjustments will make it even less profitable over time, whereas traditional revenue models will be more lucrative in this regard. It is an interesting topic of discussion, though, and one that could yield some surprising solutions over time.