Steam hasn’t been on the Bitcoin train for long. Bitcoin was introduced as a payment method on Steam in April 2016 and removed in December 2017 due to Bitcoin’s price volatility and “a significant increase in transaction processing fees on the Bitcoin network,” Valve wrote at the time. Most recently, Valve drew the ire of crypto fans by banning crypto and NFT games from the store. Last week, while talking to Valve President Gabe Newell about Steam Deck, I also asked about this rule and how it relates to cryptocurrency in general.
Turns out: not a fan, at least when it comes to Steam.
“The problem is that a lot of the actors in this space are not the people you want to interact with your customers,” Newell said. “We had problems when we started accepting cryptocurrencies as a payment method. 50% of these transactions were fraudulent, which is a staggering number. These were the clients we didn’t want to have.”
Newell reiterated that bitcoin’s fluctuations were “a complete nightmare” – people weren’t happy when a game could cost $10 one day and $100 the next. His opinion has not changed with the recent rise of crypto gaming and NFTs.
“There are a lot of really interesting technologies in the blockchain and we are trying to figure out how to make a distributed ledger. [But] I think people still don’t understand why a distributed ledger is really needed,” Newell said.
“There is a difference between what should be and what is actually currently happening in the real world. And that’s sort of where we’ve been with blockchain-based NFTs: so much of it has been ripping off customers. And we thought, “Yeah, that’s not what we want to do, we don’t want to let a lot of our customers get scammed,” which led to this decision. There is nothing about distributed ledgers that makes them problematic. Almost always what our experience was.”