In 2017, all the world wants to do is play games. From the days when you’d have to load a cassette tape to compete in Daley Thompson's Decathlon on the Commodore 64 to the portable gaming experience that typifies mobile play, gaming has changed from a hobby rooted to the living room floor to something that’s never far from our minds or hands. But can gaming get any more accessible?
There’s much to be said for the mobile phone as the omega point for accessibility – with the exception of increased processor and internet speeds, we won’t get much better than having Netflix or the Play Store in our pockets. However, as far as gaming is concerned, access to payment methods (to actually purchase digital media) is still a problem that needs solving; after all, there are markets still trapped behind the paywall of high credit card interest rates.
Bitcoin, a type of cryptocurrency, has the virtue of being stateless; it’s the only currency that can be used in any country around the world. As it’s also exempt from things like inflation, high transaction fees, and bank or government influences, it’s increasingly a means to an end for people who struggle to buy luxuries like games with fiat money. Satoshi Nakamoto’s internet money has also gained a reputation as an economic “safe house” to stave off devaluation.
Gaming hopped on the Bitcoin bandwagon early on but it’s debatable whether the token’s status as “alt-money” would have been achievable without advocates in the casino sector. For the reasons listed above, Bitcoin-only brand Vegas Casino adopted the cryptocurrency as a means to reach as many customers as possible, part of an ethos of inclusivity that runs right through its business; the site’s live casino offering comes in three different languages for example.
The site is not just a Bitcoin casino with information to guide new players on getting started with basics like how to find a Bitcoin wallet and converting money, but Bitcoin's newfound permanence in the world is testament to just how accessible it is. Long before overtaking gold for value earlier this year (albeit briefly) Bitcoin pre-empted Apple Pay and Android Pay as far as purchasing with a mobile phone is concerned.
Beyond casino, in the realm of more conventional video gaming, Steam (Valve), Dell, and Microsoft are perhaps the most notable companies that accept Bitcoin but support from Humble Bundle and Kinguin means that players can buy just about anything for the PC or Xbox with the cryptocurrency. And if there’s nothing available on the storefronts for a particular platform, just buy a gift card instead; it’s possible to purchase Sony products this way too.
The issue remains though. While a revolution in the way people pay for things might sound like a joke in the West – who doesn’t use PayPal these days? – the reality is that, along with Vegas Casino, Steam's rationale for introducing Bitcoin to its storefront was to even the landscape as far as payment methods are concerned, opening up its catalog to audiences in Asia and South America. Why? A credit card from CSF Bank Carrefour in Brazil had an APR rate of 654% in 2015, with cross-border fees levied for out-of-country purchases. Fees associated with Bitcoin can be as low as zero.
Bitcoin is a way to homogenize the way games and other luxury goods are bought; it's perhaps fitting that, as a nearly universal hobby, gaming companies were some of the first industries to take Satoshi Nakamoto's landmark cryptocurrency seriously.
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