Steam will no longer let games or other software onto its storefront if they engage in any cryptocurrency or NFT trading using blockchain technology.
Cryptocurrencies and NFTs were tagged onto to the list of prohibited application features on Steam's Steamworks Onboarding document for developers shipping titles on its platform, specifically "[a]pplications built on blockchain technology that issue or allow exchange of cryptocurrencies or NFTs."
Its not immediately clear when the new rule was added to the list, but according to Engadget, it appears to have been sometime after October 6. Some developers appear to have been notified directly by Valve of the rule change.
Community: A few minutes ago, we were notified that @Steam will be kicking *all blockchain games* off the platform, including Age of Rust, because NFTs have value. Behind the scenes, we've had good communication and have been upfront with Steam. #blockchaingames #NFT 1/4 pic.twitter.com/W4pR3Xl63qOctober 14, 2021
Valve hasn't specified why it updated its rules or what its issue with cryptocurrencies and NFTs might be, but we've reached out to Valve and will update this story if we hear back from the company.
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Opinion: I don't buy the hype around NFTs, but gaming will be one of the best ways for it to prove itself
It's no secret that I don't put much faith in cryptocurrencies to do anything other than help accelerate the destruction of our environment, and NFTs – which are at least more noble in intent, who doesn't want artists to get paid fairly for their work? – likewise look like an interesting computer science exercise in theory, but in practice, feels more like everyone collecting Furbies and expecting to retire on their investment.
People spent $100,000 on some of those too. But NFTs might actually have some genuine utility that I'm not seeing, so I do put them in different category then cryptocurrency which is pretty much just a vehicle for tax avoidance, money-laundering, and criminal activity.
One of the ways we can find if NFTs are more than just another pop investment craze is by putting NFTs and blockchain to use in creative ways, and gaming has always been one of the biggest drivers of technological innovation.
IBM developed its Watson AI platform first to win a game of Jeopardy, but now it's being used in all kinds of important industry applications that require emotive intelligence that can understand intuitive human context.
Training AI on games like Chess and Go has pushed the boundaries of artificial intelligence and led to important developments in machine learning, as has applying it to Super Mario Bros. and other popular video games. If there is a genuinely useful role for NFTs in the world, gaming is definitely one of the ways to identify and develop it.
I don't know how you platform a game that rewards players with tangible real world value wgucg doesn't quickly descend into something exploitative or turn that platform into little more than a casino, but I doubt that Valve's objection is over something being exchanged that has real world value.
EVE Online is still going strong, and that game very openly promoted the idea that players build ships and starbases that have real-world value – enough that climactic battles have led to the destruction of hundreds of thousands of dollars in value, in fact.
Whatever Valves reasoning, some transparency is warranted as far as NFTs go, since it could be essential to proving that they're actually valuable at all.
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John (He/Him) is the Components Editor here at TechRadar and he is also a programmer, gamer, activist, and Brooklyn College alum currently living in Brooklyn, NY.
Named by the CTA as a CES 2020 Media Trailblazer for his science and technology reporting, John specializes in all areas of computer science, including industry news, hardware reviews, PC gaming, as well as general science writing and the social impact of the tech industry.
You can find him online on Threads @johnloeffler.
Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 (just like everyone else).