Brian Fargo is the founder of Interplay Entertainment, a studio known for role-playing games like Wasteland and The Bard’s Tale, and InXile Entertainment (Wasteland 2 and Torment: Tides of Numenera). Now his new company, Robot Cache, wants to use blockchain to change the way people own digital games.
Speaking today at our GamesBeat Summit 2018 event in Mill Valley, California, Fargo talked with Zebra Partners principal Perrin Kaplan about Robot Cache’s experiment: a digital game store that will use its own cryptocurrency, Iron, to let people resell the games they buy.
“We’d like to be the Steam of blockchain games,” Fargo said.
Reselling games is a common phenomena in traditional brick-and-mortar stores, notably at the chain retailer GameStop. But the practice hasn’t had a place in digital game stores like Steam. DRM (digit rights management) and the threat of piracy makes reselling digital games impractical. But Robot Cache will use blockchain, which can verify all actions on its chain, to make it possible to sell their owns, giving them Iron in return.
“The publisher controls all the variables, or how the resell gets done,” Fargo noted. That means publishers can decide how much of a cut they get from a resell and how much the consumer keeps.
Fargo hopes that giving people the option to sell their used digital games will give them an incentive to buy new games. That’s how it works at GameStop, where people use the money or store credit from selling their old titles to buy new ones (or other used games).
Of course, trying to start a new digital game store with the Steam giant looming over thing can be difficult. But Fargo says that Robot Cache doesn’t need to top Valve’s platform.
“I don’t claim that we’re going to take out Steam.” Fargo said. “We don’t need to be Netflix, but can we be Hulu?”