Gamers invest considerable sums in the GPU chips that power their computers. However, even the most hardcore “Fortnite” player will leave his or her gaming rig on idle for a significant chunk of each day while they go to work, attend school, or — at the very least — sleep. Hardware manufacturer Razer says that it’s a shame that these expensive devices aren’t being used to their full potential, which is why they want gamers to let them use their idle GPUs to mine cryptocurrency.
To that end, the Singaporean gaming giant, which has dual headquarters in Singapore and San Francisco, on Wednesday unveiled cryptocurrency mining software that allows customers to earn passive income from their gaming rigs when they aren’t being used.
Once installed on a customer PC, the client — called Razer SoftMiner — will remain dormant while the computer is in use and then activate when the GPU is idle.
It’s not clear what cryptocurrency or cryptocurrencies the software will mine, though networks like Monero and Ethereum (at least until Ethash ASICs become widely distributed) are popular options for GPU miners.
Razer isn’t the first hardware manufacturer to encourage gamers to install cryptocurrency mining software that utilizes idle GPU power. Last month, Asus introduced a similar service that it developed in partnership with Quantumcloud and said would help PC owners gain a passive income stream.
However, there’s one major difference between the two programs. While gamers who mine crypto using Asus chips can cash out directly in fiat through PayPal or WeChat, Razer customers receive payment through the company’s loyalty rewards program, Razer Silver.
According to the firm’s website, users with the “proper setup” can earn approximately 500 Razer Silver per 24 hours. This rewards token, in turn, can be used to purchase one of the less than 100 items listed in the Razer Silver catalog, and miners will find that their tokens don’t have much purchasing power.
The cheapest item in the Razer Silver catalog is a $5 discount code to the main Razer storefront, which will set users back 1,500 credits. That works out to about $1.67 per day or $0.07 per hour — excluding the cost electricity.
If users want to spend their funds outside of Razer’s walled garden, the credits become even less valuable. A $10 gift card to ThinkGeek or Domino’s Pizza costs 14,000 credits, which would take an optimized rig running around the clock nearly a month to accrue. This works out to expected revenue of just $0.36 per day or one-and-a-half cents per hour.
Moreover, credits expire after 12 months, which means that even users who maintained a “proper setup” and mined 24 hours a day for an entire year would find that their balances (182,500) fell nearly 100,000 credits short of the most expensive item in the catalog, the 280,000 credit Razer Huntsman Elite which retails for $200.
Remember, those are likely best-case scenarios, ones that take Razer’s projections at face value. In reality, revenue should decline at regular intervals as other miners upgrade their hardware to faster GPUs. This was not lost on Razer’s Twitter followers, many of whom panned the promotion.
“This is the worst trade deal in the history of trade deals, maybe ever,” wrote one user, channeling his or her inner Donald Trump. “Seriously? This is an early April fools joke right?” asked another.
Considering how competitive cryptocurrency mining has become, one would not expect to make a fortune loaning out their idle GPU power, particularly since the third-party intermediary will take a cut of the proceeds. However, given the unattractive revenue figures touted by the company itself, one must seriously question whether it’s worth it to utilize the service at all.
Nevertheless, gimmick though it may be, Razer’s cryptocurrency mining push does represent another instance of this nascent technology and asset class wading further into the mainstream, and that should give crypto enthusiasts something to cheer about against the backdrop of an otherwise dismal market.
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