Gaming hardware manufacturer Razer wants gamers to download software that mines cryptocurrency with their idle computers. But users won’t get to keep the digital coins they generate with their machines, and neither will Razer.
Instead, according to the company, gamers running Razer’s mining software on their machines will be contributing to a platform called GammaNow that Razer is partnered with. GammaNow will manage the mined cryptocurrency—which includes ether, the native token of the Ethereum blockchain, as well as a rotating cast of other tokens—and in return give Razer a fee for convincing customers to contribute computing power. Users will receive loyalty points called Silver that can be redeemed for a discount on Razer products.
“The cryptocurrency that’s being mined through this program is not touching Razer’s hands nor the user’s hands,” said Razer spokesperson Kevin Allen in a phone call. “We get a fee from the third party for generating cryptocurrency.”
GammaNow is a gaming-centric platform where users mine cryptocurrency with their idle computers and receive Gamma Points that can be redeemed for rewards like skins and esports tickets. According to an emailed statement from Razer, GammaNow purchased Silver from Razer and awards users directly through the platform. GammaNow is “handling the immediate sale of what [cryptocurrency] is mined,” according to the statement.
To reiterate this rather convoluted arrangement: gamers use their idle computers to mine various cryptocurrencies for GammaNow through SoftMiner. In exchange, GammaNow gives the gamers Silver, which it bought from Razer, and which gamers can then redeem for discounts on Razer products.
The mining software, called SoftMiner, elicited confusion and anger—but mostly confusion—from social media users when it was announced on Wednesday. Mining cryptocurrency is a resource-intensive process that requires computers (specifically, those with graphics cards primed to render the latest video games) to crunch numbers 24/7 in exchange for newly-minted digital tokens. It’s tough on hardware, and it sucks up electricity.
According to Razer, Silver rewards for mining through SoftMiner are determined by the type of graphics card you have and how long your computer is running for. Gamers can also earn Silver by playing games with Razer Cortex, a performance-boosting desktop app.
Cryptocurrency mining is a nascent industry, but, Allen said, “This is something that if it has a lucrative business model will stay.”
Get six of our favorite Motherboard stories every day by signing up for our newsletter.