Steam, the popular application for purchasing and downloading games, has officially prohibited any blockchain games that contain cryptocurrencies or NFTs from being added to its more than 50,000 listings on the platform.
Under Steam’s Rules and Guidelines for publishers, any “applications built on blockchain technology that issue or allow exchange of cryptocurrencies or NFTs” are no longer allowed to be distributed via Steam. This means that many blockchain games will be effectively barred from the platform until further notice.
The developers behind Age of Rust, a blockchain-based game where players can collect NFTs, have spoken out on the issue. “We chose to be upfront about blockchain gaming and NFTs. As a result, we finally lost the battle with Steam,” they said on Twitter. “While I’m disappointed for Age of Rust being removed, the point is more to the fact that blockchain games as a whole are going to be removed. This is [a] setback for all.”
Valve, the company behind the Steam store, has not yet released a statement explaining the reason for this ban. Some have speculated that the ban may be partially due to the fact that Steam does not want games that contain items with “real-world value” in their store.
Another possible reason is that if a Steam game contains cryptocurrencies or NFTs, the game effectively functions as an unregulated “store-within-a-store” that Steam may be unable to profit from, depending on the game. Because of the decentralized nature of blockchain gaming, it would be difficult for Steam to enforce rules upon a blockchain game if the game’s protocol does not allow it. Steam as a company would not be able to regulate or shape the immutable code that lives on the blockchain.
In addition, blockchain gaming is a disruptive technology because some titles allow players to earn profits instead of a distributor like Steam. For this reason, blockchain games may be considered a product that, in current iterations, conflict with Steam’s profit motive. That being said, it could be possible for Steam to revenue-share with a blockchain game if the game’s code can permit it.
In the future, Steam could develop blockchain or NFT integrations of their own. Though Epic Games, a Steam store competitor, has said “we aren’t touching NFTs,” the possibility of Steam developing its own NFT system or blockchain technology isn’t entirely off the table—yet.