Reported on Oct. 14, game developer SpacePirate noted that Steam has updated its guidelines for what content creators can post on the platform. In Steam’s onboarding process for partners, no blockchain-based applications that “issue or exchange cryptocurrencies or NFTs” are permitted. Along with the rule are guidelines prohibiting hate speech, defamatory statements, and sexually explicit images.
In the new policy, all traditional games appear to be prohibited from incorporating cryptographic content or NFTs, but it also seems to have stopped blockchain game developers from publishing games on the platform. SpacePirate said their Age of Rust game was being removed, with others likely to follow.
While Valve Corporation has previously targeted crypto and blockchain on its Steam marketplace (In 2018, the company removed a game that allegedly hijacked users’ computers to mine crypto), this latest attack is a clear indication that they are betting on the centralized Web2 monetization model lasting into the future. Amy Wu, a partner in the Venture Capital firm Lightspeed, called out Steam’s ulterior motive, explaining that “It’s not surprising” because “Web2 centralized platforms get a cut of all value generated from its ecosystem” while “Blockchain circumvents that and decentralizes value back to builders and users,” something Valve would not be happy about given how profitable Steam’s storefront is. Steam’s decision has shown they are money badgers who are intent on maintaining the status quo and protecting themselves from sharing any profits generated on their platform.
If their bet doesn’t payoff though, the move would likely be financially disadvantageous to Valve as blockchain-based games grow in popularity. According to a recent report from DappRadar, unique active wallets connected to gaming decentralized applications reached a total of 754,000 for Q3 2021. Many blockchain games offer players the opportunity to earn real-world token rewards and trade in-game NFTs, providing a possible path to further crypto adoption.
Valve originally announced it would accept Bitcoin (BTC) payments in 2016, but later stopped this practice, citing high fees and volatility, but given this latest move could there be more at play here? Could Valve be feeling threatened by a decentralized, peer-to-peer Web3 future where they can no longer take a cut of every transaction on their platform?