Steam: hard punch towards cryptocurrencies

Steam: hard punch towards cryptocurrencies


In the last few hours, Valve has changed the Steam guidelines regarding the content of games considered acceptable. The big news we are talking about is the arrival of a ban for all those securities with functions that allow you to exchange NFTs or cryptocurrencies, or that simply take advantage of the blockchain. To point out this change were the developers of the indie Age of Rust, SpacePirate Games, via RockPaperShotgun, who reported being notified just this week of the change to the platform's policies.

The work in particular makes great use of NFTs and the blockchain system more generally, so the addition of this novelty in the Steam guidelines will be a problem for the developers and the publisher. For the moment, Valve has not made any official statement regarding the decision, which still remains partly unmotivated. In any case, we are sure that the more "traditional" games will not be impacted in any way.

The developers however explained that "behind the scenes, we had good communication and we were anticipated with Steam". Although there is no official explanation regarding the choice to ban games that allow the exchange of NFTs and cryptocurrencies, SpacePirate Games believe that the reason is that "objects have value, and Valve does not allow them to have real value on their platform" .

We already know that on Steam there are already many items for sale on the marketplace, which can be purchased with real money (just think of the Counter Strike: Global Offensive knives), but the purchase method is traceable as opposed to a unencrypted currency. In short, we just have to wait for more clarification on the matter from Valve, which could also come in the next few hours. In the meantime, let us know what you think of this decision by commenting below.

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Valve bans blockchain games and NFTs on Steam, Epic will try to make it work

© Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Games that use blockchain technology or let users exchange NFTs or cryptocurrencies won’t be allowed on Steam, according to a rule added to Valve’s “What you shouldn’t publish on Steam” list. The change was pointed out by SpacePirate, a developer working on an NFT-based game, who said that the change was because the company doesn’t allow game items that could have real-world value. But Steam could also be avoiding controversy with the move.

Steam is one of the most well-known PC game stores, but it’s not the only one. While Epic’s CEO Tim Sweeney has said that the company isn’t interested in touching NFTs, that policy doesn’t seem to apply to games in its store: Epic told The Verge that it’s “open” to the idea of games that use NFTs or cryptocurrencies in an email on Friday.

Looking at a Wayback Machine capture of Steam’s rule page from late August, there are only 12 rules and no mention of cryptocurrencies or NFTs. The new rule is also missing from other documents — it currently doesn’t show up on the Joining the Steamworks Distribution Program page.

Steam has a history of making controversial moderation decisions, especially when it comes to games with sexual content. In this case, though, it doesn’t seem like people are pressing F to pay respects to NFT games — a majority of the replies and quote tweets to SpacePirate’s tweets are praising Valve for the move (or mocking those that are upset about it).

Valve didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

It’s perhaps understandable why Steam would want to avoid having NFTs on its platform. Besides the justification cited by SpacePirate that they could have real-world value (which seems a bit weak, given the massive commercial communities around things like CS:GO skins and Team Fortress 2 hats), NFT and crypto-based games don’t have the best reputations. There’s the infamous Evolved Apes saga where a developer sold NFTs with the promise that they’d be included in a fighting game but then seemingly took the money and ran. There are some potentially interesting game concepts that use NFTs, but it’s hard to say how many of them would’ve been a good fit for Steam even if they were allowed.

NFTs may become a big question in platform moderation

Steam and Epic’s different approaches highlight the fact that any platform or store that moderates content will likely have to make a decision about whether it wants to allow apps or games to sell NFTs — one of the biggest question marks right now may be Apple and how it handles apps like OpenSea and Coinbase should they decide to start letting users buy the digital tokens.

Updated October 15th, 6:20PM ET: Updated with information from Epic that it’s open to blockchain-based games on its store.