In a recent update to its ‘onboarding’ documentation, Valve has revealed that any applications built on blockchain technology are not allowed to be published on Steam, its global gaming platform. This would include games or applications featuring the exchange of cryptocurrencies or NFTs (non-fungible tokens). It’s a huge blocker for the advancement of blockchain, which day-by-day, becomes more intertwined with the gaming industry as a whole.
According to Valve, the ruling came as a decision to prohibit game items with real-world value from being traded or earned on its platforms. Reportedly, Valve has identified the potentially malicious reputation surrounding NFT and cryptocurrency-focused games and has decided to just issue a blanket ban across Steam. Right now, this impacts several small developers, as Steam is, statistically, the world’s number one gaming storefront and marketplace.
What does this revelation mean for the wider gaming community? In a world where the likes of cryptocurrency and gaming are getting closer together each day, how does this news impact the industry?
Blocking the Blockchain
Responding to Valve’s change in the Steam Terms of Service, Age of Rust, a first-person adventure title that features NFTs, issued a comprehensive statement:
We chose to be upfront about blockchain gaming & NFTs. As a result, we finally lost the battle with Steam. While I’m disappointed for Age of Rust being removed, the point is more to the fact that blockchain games as a whole are going to removed. This is a setback for all.
Following the news, there was a batch of backlash orginating from the portion of the gaming community that supports NFT gaming. In one statement, a gamer condemned the move, stating that he’d not touched Steam since the news had aired:
Another player proposed that the future of Steam could be disrupted by a marketplace that does embrace NFT games:
Coincidentally, almost as soon as Valve announced the Steam ban, competitor Epic Games announced that it ‘would try to make it work’, where NFT gaming was concerned. Although it wasn’t concrete clarification of an attempt to implement an NFT-accepting platform, it was a clear indication that the platform may be more progressive than Valve’s Steam.
Is It Controversial?
For the last few years, Valve has effectively led the charge in issuing real-world value to in-game items. On Steam, gamers can enjoy what’s known as a ‘soft’ cashout system, selling in-game items (such as weapon skins) for platform credit. However, there are connections to real-world payouts, with third-party platforms offering players the ability to sell their items for actual cash.
The best example of this would be the CSGO skins market, which is valued in the billions of dollars. On Steam, gamers have the ability to unlock skins for their weapons and characters on the incredibly popular FPS title, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Then, they’re free to trade these items, through either a soft or hard cashout method. Throughout history, some of these skins have fetched prices upwards of tens of thousands of dollars.
Ultimately, there are many critics that praise NFT gaming, claiming that the premise is the future of modern gaming in general. Essentially, it offers players the ability to earn money through gaming – something that gamers have aspired to do for years. Will Valve remain as popular as it has if it permanently strips this ability away from its audience?
Only time will tell.
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