Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Steam Bans Games That Contain NFT And Cryptocurrency Features

A Steam logo next to a crossed-out NFT logo.

Image: Valve / Satoshis Games / Kotaku

Damn. Good Guy Steam is (sort of) back. The developer of an upcoming NFT-based PC game revealed in a tweet that Steam is no longer allowing games built on blockchain technology or that “issue or allow exchange of cryptocurrencies or NFTs.” Indeed, Valve’s onboarding rules page now says exactly that.

Non-fungible tokens are digital assets that represent “ownership” of specific image files, and this ownership is recorded in an electronic ledger called a “blockchain.” The NFT scene is famous for scammers who bail after the money is paid in, and there are multiple cryptocurrency projects in which the developers just expect investors to trust them on a spit handshake. Not to mention that NFTs (and cryptocurrency in general) are environmental disasters. But as long as high-profile NFTs can potentially command sales prices of millions of dollars, crypto bros will continue peddling the snake oil.

Steam’s formal ban of cryptocurrency games and NFTs wasn’t completely unexpected. On September 30, NFT-based game developer Satoshis Games announced that Valve would not allow its NFT game Light Nite to be released on Steam. No explanation was given until today, when the developers behind Age of Rust (another NFT game) explained that Steam does not allow games that “have real-world value” to exist on the platform.

Light Nite is a game in which players can earn NFTs by playing the game, which they can then sell in a bitcoin marketplace. Similarly, Age of Rust has a mechanic in which players can use NFTs to unlock certain kinds of in-game rewards. Since both of these games allow players to redeem digital assets for real-world value, they would be running afoul of Steam’s new stance against such features.

It’s pretty funny that Steam thinks that NFTs contain real value, but I’m not complaining. The less closely video games align with NFTs, the better off we’ll all be. And it seems like I’m not the only one who agrees. Steam’s main competitor is the Epic Games Store. CEO Tim Sweeney tweeted that the company was “[not] touching NFTs as the whole field is currently tangled up with an intractable mix of scams, interesting decentralized tech foundations, and scams.”

Even if the technology itself wasn’t based on selling people on beachfront property in Florida, the NFT market is notoriously volatile. This past June, the NFT market suffered a 90% collapse from its peak.

Now that two of the largest games distributors in the world have rejected this particular mixture of games and crypto, the future for cryptocurrency- and NFT-centered games looks a little less bright.

 
 

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