As cryptocurrencies continue to build momentum among a larger user base and gain prominence within the non-virtual world, there are likely to be some unanticipated effects. For proponents of Bitcoin, the largest digital currency by market cap, more Bitcoin users means a larger and more competitive market, as well as additional instances of brick-and-mortar stores taking on Bitcoin capabilities. (See also: Russian Burger King to Accept Bitcoin Payments.)

This means Bitcoin holders can spend their cryptocurrency without having to convert it to fiat money more and more easily as time goes on. Alongside a greater demand for Bitcoin comes a larger number of potential Bitcoin miners hoping to capitalize on the increased interest. (See also: Chinese Investment in Bitcoin Mining is Enormous.)

On the other hand, some pre-existing groups are feeling negative pressures because of these developments, and one of these is a community that may have seemed unrelated: computer gamers.

Gaming and Mining Operations in Competition

Why would a rise in Bitcoin make things more difficult for the gaming community? According to an article in PC Gamer, it comes down to the basics. Hardware costs for gamers are climbing as demand for powerful rigs and, in particular, graphics cards has driven up prices. It seems that gamers and Bitcoin miners each require some very expensive hardware items in order to most effectively run their operations.

Bitcoin mining is the process by which new Bitcoins are generated. Supporters of the cryptocurrency movement often favor the decentralized status of these currencies, in part because this allows anyone with a powerful-enough computer setup to go about generating new tokens.

As such, amateur and professional miners alike have set up huge numbers of rigs all around the world, each working through complicated math problems in order to be rewarded with Bitcoin. The mining rigs make use of specialized graphics cards like the AMD RX 400/500 series, and the growing interest in mining has flooded the market with requests to purchase those cards. Many sellers are completely out of stock, and the cards that are available have skyrocketed in price.

Gamers Feel the Pressure

Gamers, on the other hand, use similar graphics cards for a very different purpose. Many have felt the pressure of increased prices on the graphics cards and other hardware they need in order to stay at the cutting edge of gaming.

However, there may be some relief on the way. ASUS, one of the largest manufacturers of graphics cards, recently announced plans to launch a new series of products with cryptocurrency mining in mind. This could lead to new classes of graphics cards with different focuses depending on whether the user is looking to mine or to game.

As long as interest in mining continues to grow, it's unlikely that the pressure will abate. But in this case, perhaps gamers will find that their graphics cards are not quite so expensive any longer.

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