Valve Bans Blockchain Games on Steam

Bryan Healey10 Jun 2022

According to a new regulation updated to Valve's "What you shouldn't publish on Steam" list, games that employ blockchain technology or that allow users to swap NFTs or cryptocurrencies will not be allowed to be published on the platform. Specifically, SpacePirate, a developer working on an NFT-based game, remarked that the change was made since the company does not allow game items that could have real-world value to be used. Steam, on the other hand, could be attempting to avoid controversy by coming to such a decision.

What Is Steam?

Steam is a digital distribution platform developed by game company Valve that allows you to purchase, play, create, and discuss PC games. From large game developers to small game creators, the platform supports thousands of games and also downloadable content (DLC) and user-generated features (mods) from a variety of sources.

After starting as a platform for PC games, the platform quickly expanded its reach to include home video game consoles such as the Xbox and the Sony PlayStation. Gamers can access the Steam website and buy and play games online, which is a more convenient alternative to purchasing physical copies of the games and painstakingly installing them onto their computers.

Steam is also a useful platform for game developers, whether they are working for large gaming corporations or small indie game developers and publishers. Through a shop page, any developer can collaborate with Steam to publish their games on the platform, as well as simply communicate with and tell the gaming community about their products. Whenever a game developer wishes to update or fix their game, they can do so through the Steam platform by releasing "game patches" for download by players. In this way, game developers can make improvements to their games without having to issue a recall of their products.

What Are Blockchain Games?

Blockchain gaming is defined as gaming that makes use of actual item ownership derived from the same innovation that is at the heart of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. The fact that game assets would no longer be stranded in games is a game-changing innovation for gamers who have originally thought that their items will remain stuck in games indefinitely. Normally, gamers are used to walled-in settings that prevent them from freely moving assets in and out of the game world. Blockchain acts rather like a wrecking ball or the kool-aid guy when it comes to shaking up the gaming world.

Blockchain games provide gamers with the ability to prove that their things are rare while also allowing them to send anything to anyone. This new possibility is available without the need to go through hoops or sell your entire account to transfer a single small item that a buyer wishes to purchase. Games will no longer be constrained by the need to provide new material or sell dubious DLC, and will instead be able to focus on creating new content that is tradable and helps them keep players. Gamers have become so accustomed to jumping from game to game to satisfy an itch that they habitually purchase new games every other month to keep up with the latest trends and excitement. Everyone gains if they can extend the amount of time they spend playing their favorite games while also spending more money in-game. This becomes even more advantageous for gamers when platforms such as Enjin allow authors to charge transfer fees to monetize the trade that takes place both inside and outside of the game.

Why Did Valve Ban Blockchain Games on Steam?

Valve has not explained its decision to restrict NFTs and cryptocurrencies from Steam, but the move does not appear to be related to any of the recent scandals or issues surrounding blockchain technology. A sequence of tweets was announced that Steam would be eliminating all blockchain-based projects, including Age of Rust. According to SpacePirate, Steam's prohibition on non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and cryptocurrencies are an extension of a wider prohibition on products with real-world monetary worth.

Valve hasn't released a statement explaining its decision, and there hasn't been any documentation stating that products with real-world worth are prohibited. If the restriction about goods with monetary worth exists, it is likely that it only applies to products that retain monetary value after being purchased by a gamer, which is unlikely given a large number of items available for purchase as DLC on Steam. Even in that case, though, Steam is primarily concerned with users purchasing and selling digital collectibles for real money. Using Steam, users have been able to acquire digital cards by accomplishing specific challenges in a variety of games, and then trade them to other users in exchange for Steam Wallet funds for years. Weapon skins offered by players in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive can fetch thousands of dollars. It failed, with the trading card game Artifact arriving in late 2018 and going free-to-play in early 2021, but Valve's attempt to construct an economy in the game wasn't far off from the ideals being espoused by NFT enthusiasts these days.

One probable rationale for Valve's decision for the ban is the legal difficulty the business found itself in 2016 for failing to prevent skin gambling on the CS: GO game. It came to a point where Valve blacklisted seven players for purposefully losing a match to earn CS: GO skins valued at thousands of dollars. Valve ultimately issued a rare comment following the event, stating that professional CS: GO players should refrain from gambling, associating with gambling firms, or providing information that could affect CS: GO betting. Several people were outraged when two popular YouTubers endorsed a CS: GO gambling site without revealing that they co-owned it. The FTC also ordered them not to do it again and to keep records of their adherence for the next 10 years, but they otherwise got away with it, much to the chagrin of many.

The world of NFTs and cryptocurrencies has indeed been plagued with frauds and unscrupulous deals thus far, and, probably, Valve doesn't want its platform to be utilized by any more gambling firms or other schemes that might put the company in legal trouble.

In the first place, NFT or crypto-based gameplay isn't particularly common among the games that are hosted on Steam. In addition to NFT-centered games that have obtained a huge following despite being available online, there are NFT-based online video games such as Axie Infinity, developed by Vietnamese studio Sky Mavis and boasting a daily player base of two million that are not restricted to the Steam platform. While policy changes could scuttle the dreams of companies like Sky Mavis of expanding their reach, they avoid being at the hands of publishers or app stores.

Bryan Healey

Bryan Healey

Bryan, known by his friends as 'blockchain bryan' has been playing with crypto since 2014, early in it's inception. He wants to share what he's learnt over these years, and hopes you'll get some value out of it.

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