The gaming industry is nothing short of it, with several titles being released that make use of Blockchain technology such as NFTS and cryptocurrency. NFTs in particular are starting to become a hot topic in the gaming industry, as ownership of these serves as an asset with real-world value for the players. One most prominent in the genre is Axie Infinity, a game that deploys a gaming model similar to the monster collection and battling games throughout the ages, most prominent of which is the Pokémon series of titles. Axie Infinity also takes its place atop of lists of games that make use of NFT, as the most expensive NFT collection from May 2021 till date.
However, even with the entire boom about Blockchain gaming around the world, some big names in the industry are not in favor of implementing crypto into gaming, so far. This is due to the uncertainty of any new technology. Blockchain and crypto may indefinitely be the future, but that alone is not convincing enough for some names in the industry. Moreover, there is always the question of regulations. Blockchain itself is a highly secure mechanism in the field of computer technologies, but people have still found their way around using it to the loss of others. Certain incidents have occurred so far that involved cryptocurrency and gaming, but none so far to massively tarnish the reputation the two technologies hold together. Regardless, uncertainties and risks like these push developers into thinking if the inclusion of such a technology would serve as profitable for their business, as questionable moves by businesses can create rifts between them and their consumers. However, the real rift occurred when Valve, developers of popular titles such as Counter-Strike and Half-Life, and owners of the largest platform of game distribution, Steam, announced that they will not be keeping any titles that involve the use of Blockchain technology, such as cryptocurrency or NFTS, on Steam.
This issue was first noticed by developers working on or owning projects that made use of Blockchain technology, such as SpacePirate, a developer of the NFT-based game, Age of Rust. The developer mentioned that they had good communications regarding the matter with Steam and Valve, and understands the removal being due to NFTs holding real-world value; something Valve does not support in the gaming industry. However, SpacePirate did clearly state in the tweet that NFTs and Blockchain gaming is the future. SpacePirate was the first of many that presented their statements regarding this decision by Valve.
As the gaming industry faced this setback from Steam’s PC game store, starting early October 2021, their competitors came into play to benefit from the situation. Epic Games, Valve’s long-time competitor, did not waste any time to take hold of the situation and make the best of it. Tim Sweeny, CEO of Epic Games, mentioned earlier in September that they as game developers will not be venturing into the world of NFTs. Moreover, they do not plan to incorporate any form of cryptocurrency exchange or earning in Fortnite or any other of their titles. However, for their game store, Epic Games store, they think beyond that. Epic has clarified in an email to Verge, a popular online tech and multimedia news network, stating that Epic Games is open to accepting and welcoming games and titles that make use of NFTs, cryptocurrencies, and Blockchain technology in any form on their game store.
Epic’s move will give them the upper hand over Steam, as developers of all sorts from indie games to higher-end titles employing cryptocurrency and NFT exchange get a platform to display their creations. All these titles will be compatible with notable crypto wallets, such as Coingate, to store their cryptocurrencies and NFTs. Moreover, gaming web stores and marketplaces such as Gamecamp.gg play their role further as platforms to connect individuals for the exchange of assets such as various cryptocurrencies and NFTs. The newest addition that is New World game by the famous Amazon store is blowing it and players are expecting to be able to purchase items with their New World Coins.
While Valve has been discrete about their statement regarding updating Steam’s content moderation rules and policies, their statement is not in any way set in stone. There is a huge possibility that they may relax the conditions, allowing certain moderated or well-established games involving crypto to make the cut. There are also chances that they may take back the entire statement and restore Age of Rust and other crypto games along with allowing new titles to hit the Steam market. Their justification of removing titles as of now, which is the fact that NFTs and cryptocurrency hold real-world value, is rather biased and overall a weak justification. The Verge and several others have pointed out that titles released by Valve throughout the ages have always held some kind of element within their games that holds some real-world monetary value of its own. This can be applied to the skins obtainable in the Counter-Strike series of titles, most notably the latter ones such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, as well as hats procurable in Team Fortress 2. This can apply to the vast majority of online gaming titles, even those not manufactured or distributed by Valve, such as Fortnite, Minecraft, Roblox, and League of Legends. Each of these also has some kind of in-game element, accessory, or obtainable item that holds its respective real-world value. Thus, the argument by Valve becomes rather invalid. To oppose this, Valve may either bring forward a stronger reason for doing so or take a step back.
Considering Steam’s importance today, this decision is a huge loss for crypto-gaming. However, it is not the end of it. There are several other game stores to choose from, which have relaxed terms and conditions for developers to exhibit their games. Moreover, with time, it may be possible that an entirely new online game store may emerge that is exclusively dedicated to crypto-gaming and NFTs. For now, we can only speculate, and sit back and wait to see what the future holds for crypto-gaming.