There are quite a few big gaming stores out there and a new one is in the works with a novel approach: Futuristicon aims to sell games while using the power of grid computing to fight cancer and other deadly diseases.
It started with a submission to the /r/pcgaming subreddit. Someone discovered a game store that listed its mission as combating diseases. It sounds like an interesting concept, so I reached out to the company to learn more. What I discovered is a man with a very ambitious plan to mix business and charity.
Adam Radivojevic is a guy who seems to have a keen eye on tech — his website focuses on topics ranging from artificial intelligence to cryptocurrency and everything in-between. Naturally, some of the topics he covers also focuses on gaming, and that may have been the spark that lead to the idea behind Futuristicon.
The First Steps
From my conversation with Adam, it's clear that Futuristicon is still very much a work in progress. It's in such an early stage, in fact, that even the service's name is not yet set in stone. That said, he has a firm plan for how he'd like to move forward with the project and it sounds like a sensible concept.
Here's the short of it: people would buy games on Futuristicon just as they would on Steam or the Epic Games Store. From there, the store would collect a percentage of the sale just as most other storefronts do; Adam has stated a 25% revenue share as an early target. It's a straightforward business model that many other companies have successfully used for years.
How does this new service fight cancer, then? While a revenue share with charitable causes is certainly a possibility, that's not the core of this new service's mission. Rather, Futuristicon aims to use the power of its customers' computers.
Sharing is Caring
BOINC — Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing — is an open-source project with a laudable goal: take a little bit of computing power from a lot of people and use it to make some important calculations. BOINC projects calculate solutions to complex problems for astrophysics, biology, mathematics, and pretty much every other hard science out there. The data from these calculations can be used to find novel solutions to fighting (and perhaps even curing) diseases.
"We would like to incentivize scientists to have better communication with our users, and to display their progress." — Adam Radivojevic, Futuristicon CEO
Futuristicon's desktop client will have BOINC baked into it, using a portion of the player's unused computing power to contribute towards distributed computing projects that aim to fight real-world problems. Naturally, the use of your processor or GPU can be a concern when you're playing games, and that's something that will be covered in the client, too.
"[The BOINC] client definitely needs to be dialed back while any CPU or GPU-intensive games are running on the PC," Adam explained. "Even completely stopped in some cases. But our point is not to throttle our users' computers, it's to use whatever we can. If we get our user to finish one work unit in 10 days, that's definitely better than completing 0 work units."
What Futuristicon is doing should be familiar to gamers — last year, Borderlands 3 did something similar with its "Borderlands Science" in-game project. This new company's aim, however, would operate on a much larger scale and wouldn't require any active work from its customers; rather, it would contribute towards scientific progress quietly in the background.
The Business of Games
Futuristicon will largely be focused on its distributed computing project. Adam Radivojevic indicated that they may donate money to charitable organizations at a later point, but the key focus of the company's first few months will be on building itself as a business and reaching as many users as possible.
"I had really tried to make it work as a non-profit, because in its core it really is, but the data has [shown] me that in order to sustain the user growth we need in order to fight competition and remain relevant, we need investors," Adam explained.
"We will make sure to contribute to the non-profit aspect of our company as much as we possibly can, but we need to give some profit to our investors so we could reach the threshold of a user base large enough quickly enough to make our vision become reality."
Adam lists his favorite projects as [email protected], [email protected], and World Community Grid, although that's not an exhaustive list of what Futuristicon will be aiming to work with. Right now, his focus is on moving the company from Serbia to a country within the EU and using that as a launching platform to get set up in Europe and America.
[The] core vision is to help advance medical research via crowdsourced computing (therefore [we chose] 'F*** Cancer While Playing Games' as our slogan). There's also [an] intangible aspect to our project - and these are the side-effects. They include raising awareness about [the] biggest issues - diseases, world hunger, poverty - all issues that could be fixed if enough computing was directed towards science.
Can Futuristicon work? There are far more digital game storefronts that have failed than succeeded. Still, Adam Radivojevic seems to have a solid plan and the willingness to make it happen. We'll hopefully see the company's first steps sometime in the first half of 2021 — for now, you can sign up for their mailing list at gaming.futuristicon.com.
Note: Following publication, we were contacted and asked to change the service's name from the work-in-progress title of "FuturGaming" to "Futuristicon."
What do you think of Futuristicon? Would a charitable mission make you more likely to purchase from a retailer? Let us know in the comments below!