Almost a year ago, Valve took a radical stance on blockchain games. Despite the metaverse hype launched by Zuckerberg’s announcement of renaming Facebook to Meta Platforms, Steam started banning games that had included cryptocurrencies or NFTs.
Almost a year has passed, but the game store isn’t showing any signs of easing its position. Moreover, one of its biggest competitors, Epic Games, already scheduled a Web3 game on their game store.
During the DevGAMM conference, DailyCoin asked Tom Giardino and Alden Kroll from Steam’s business team about the future possibility of easing the rules regarding blockchain games.
Here’s their answer:
“No changes to the policy [are] planned yet. Those [NFT games] are touching legal and regulatory topics. And the nuances of that should be discussed with the legal team first. So far, no changes in policy regarding NFTs,” Tom Giardino answered.
Even though the answer was brief and not promising, there were several more hints provided during their talk.
Why Does Steam Hate Blockchain Games?
In one of the interviews with Rock, Paper, Shotgun, the president of the video game company Valve, Gabe Newell, expressed his stance on NFT games as well as blockchain technology in general. He said that the technology might be promising, but:
"You have to separate the underlying technology versus which actors are utilising that technology. It's like, if you're a chemist, and you're looking at nitrocellulose, you're like “Oh, yeah, we can do some really interesting stuff with that.”
This means that it’s not the blockchain itself that is “bad” but the people using it in improper ways. On the other hand, frauds and scams can exist at any time. In this case, it’s a matter of building the proper regulatory framework, so “bad people” have no chance of using it in a bad way.
The same thing happened when Steam started accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment back in 2016. Just after a year of this experiment, they stopped all transactions claiming “50% of transactions were fraudulent.”
So, is it worth it for Steam to create such a regulatory framework?
Crypto for Expanding the Audience?
One of the other questions the Steam team answered was about their ways to expand the audience. They bragged about a solution: Steam vouchers and gift cards.
“We sell Steam wallet cards all over the world. That’s a super expensive way for us. The fees are associated with it are 10-15%. However, here’s the trade-off: you get access to new customers, like the young audience, who doesn’t have credit cards, and who can spend their money on games. It’s a useful source of new customers,” said Tom Giardino.
This means they decided to expand the audience age-wise, which makes sense, as they are selling digital entertainment products. Yes, teenagers are not allowed to have a credit card, but they can ask their parents for one.
However, what about those people who really cannot buy a game with their internal currency? For example, in the official currencies list that are supported on the platform, there is no Nigerian naira.
Thus, the audience expansion geography-wise isn’t Steam’s priority anyways. Alden Kroll mentioned:
“We never gather demographic data about our customers. We don’t know their gender, age, and so on. Same goes for geolocation. We don’t ask for more info. That’s an agreement we have we have with customers. All they need to do is check the box that they’re over 13.”
As Nigeria is one of the countries with the highest crypto adoption rates, accepting crypto again would open up whole new markets to the company.
“Easy does it” is the main motto of such a big player like Steam. Such a big company doesn’t want to risk too much. However, do you remember how often Valve releases new games? Let’s hope we’ll get the anticipated Half-Life 3 in the next 10-20 years.
With such an approach, Epic Games Store can forge ahead. Not because of the blockchain games, but because of their tolerance to experiments and general open-mindness.
- Steam doesn’t plan to ease its approach on blockchain games soon, unless some game-changing event happens.
- Steam’s approach is to stay in the safe zone in order not to receive negative feedback from their audience.
- Epic Games has a chance to forge ahead in terms of blockchain gaming in the near future.
Read the first part of the conference report here:
DevGAMM Conference Findings: What Blockchain Gaming Can Learn from Traditional Gaming