The cryptocurrency craze that is sweeping the world is having an unexpected and dramatic effect on the gaming industry, and not a good one. Cryptocurrency mining has caused a serious shortage of graphics cards that are used in gaming systems.
To mine cryptocurrencies, miners must use an array of powerful graphics cards to solve complex math problems. By design, each cryptocurrency has only a limited supply of coins that can be mined, and as the supply shrinks, the amount of processing power required to mine new coins increases. This in turn results in miners needing to buy even more graphics cards.
This has lead to severe shortages of the kind of mid- and high-end graphics cards that are typically used in gaming systems. Because of this, the prices of these cards have skyrocketed. For example, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070, which normally sells for a little less than $400, is now selling for in excess of $700 in the United States, if it can be found at all. The shortages have also affected prices of cards outside America.
In addition to the GTX 1070, Nvidia has reported shortages of the GTX 1060 and the GTX 1080. AMD Radeon has also reported shortages of its RX 570, RX 580, Vega 6 and Vega 56 models.
The situation has gotten so bad that Nvidia is asking its retail partners to give priority to gamers. While some retailers — such as Micro Center — are listening, with the profit margins on these cards soaring, not all retailers are doing likewise.
Experts believe that if manufacturers of graphics cards are unable to increase production of the cards quickly, it will deter the building and purchasing of gaming systems, which could affect the entire gaming industry.