A group of 29 blockchain studios and groups of developers wrote an open letter to Valve after they announced a ban on games containing NFTs and other blockchain technologies on Steam.
The full letter was created and posted in collaboration with the Fight For The Future digital advocacy group and other developers, including Enjin, the BGA, and the creators of Age of Rust, as they argue the benefits and other reasons Web3 games should be allowed on Steam.
Background: How do blockchain and NFTs work?
Blockchain is a chain of blocks with data on a computer network. Each data unit is unique and can’t be altered, meaning that an entire history of everything that happens on the network is kept, no matter what. The “links” or blocks on the chain are permanent, so the data itself is secure and can’t be manipulated.
Ideally, this system is decentralized. There’s no central authority controlling the game besides the users, who manage their digital in-game assets and items. In these games, the player owns a certain number of crypto coins, like Bitcoin or non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
NFTs are in-game items that you own, just like you own any other type of cryptocurrency. They are transferable to a digital wallet or can be used inside the game. These tokens can be anything like a sword, a bow, a potion, or any other item you can own in a game.
Blockchain involves more than just money. Using this technology in games impacts how they’re developed, managed, and played.
Analysis: You can’t sit with us
The open letter recently sent to Valve by 29 blockchain studios and groups of Web3 game developers addresses the NFT-based game ban and details exactly why they believe Valve should reconsider their decision.
The group explains that using blockchain technologies in games can vastly improve and enhance gaming experiences, create new economic opportunities for players and users, and allow users to interact and collaborate in previously impossible ways.
“These enhancements make games more decentralized, democratic, interactive, player-focused systems. They also present an opportunity to streamline and modernize intellectual property rights in ways that would greatly benefit both independent creators and established corporations,” the letter reads.
They also try to appeal to Valve’s senses as they recognize the company’s impact on digital trade. “Considered as pioneers for changing how gamers sell and trade digital game items over a decade ago, Valve likely understands the impact that a more concrete medium would facilitate,” reads the open letter.
“In the spirit of that pioneering vision, we ask that you take a chance on this rapidly growing technology: remember your roots, let the industry prove itself as a positive contributor to the overall gaming ecosystem, and reverse your decision to prohibit an entire category of software from the Steam platform.”
On October 16th, Valve issued an announcement stating that “Applications built on blockchain technology that issue or allow the exchange of cryptocurrencies or NFTs” would not be published on Steam.
However, they haven’t explained this decision yet.
Outlook: One man’s loss…
Right as Steam is announcing a ban on games containing NFTs and other blockchain technologies, another gaming giant, Epic Games, did precisely the opposite. The company welcomed game developers that use blockchain technology.
In a tweet, the chief executive of Epic Games, Tim Sweeney, said: “Epic Games Store will welcome games that make use of blockchain tech provided they follow the relevant laws, disclose their terms, and are age-rated by an appropriate group. Though Epic’s not using crypto in our games, we welcome innovation in the areas of technology and finance.”
The reason behind the Steam ban on these games is still unclear, but there are a few solid reasons that could’ve motivated the company’s decision, as NFT tech is usually associated with scams, plus NFT (and cryptocurrency in general) are detrimental to the environment.
The future of gaming seems to be hanging in the balance, but if the cryptocurrency and NFT craze does manage to wiggle its way into Steam’s market- hold on to your tokens…
Raquel is a forensic geneticist turned freelance writer. She has a knack for technology and a passion for science. You can follow her at scitechcorner.com and on Twitter @theRaquelSantos.