Gabe Newell explains why Steam banned NFTs
"The things that were being done were super sketchy."
Amidst bumper acquisitions and a multitude of mega new releases, NFTs have garnered many headlines across the industry in 2022 - from big publishers like EA and Ubisoft toying with the controversial blockchain technology to flashpoints like Team 17 quickly embracing it then having to deal with the immediate fallout.
Back in October, Valve made a stand by banning all blockchain games from its Steam platform, updating its policy documents to reflect the change. The move was well-received by the wider community, though the developer of Age of Rust - one of the games impacted by the new policy - went into a bit more detail, claiming that Steam didn't want to allow items of real-world value on its store.
It was an interesting point, especially in context of the success Valve has seen off the sale of the likes of Team Fortress 2 hats and CS: GO skins, so given the chance to speak to Valve co-founder and president Gabe Newell I thought it'd be worth asking for a bit more clarity on the stance.
"The things that were being done were super sketchy," Newell told Eurogamer. "And there was some illegal shit that was going on behind the scenes, and you're just like, yeah, this is bad. Blockchains as a technology are a great technology, that the ways in which has been utilised are currently are all pretty sketchy. And you sort of want to stay away from that.
"We have the same problem when we're accepting cryptocurrencies, 50 percent of the cryptocurrency paid for transactions were fraudulent, right? You look at that and you're like, well, that's bad. And then cryptocurrency volatility meant that people had no idea what price that they were actually paying. Yes, they were anchored to a cryptocurrency, but most people's wages are not in cryptocurrencies.
"So they're like, how come I just paid $498 US dollars for this product? And if the answer is, you know, that's what happens when you have a highly volatile currency that you're paying for. That's like, today, you paid 99 cents for it tomorrow, you're going to pay $498 for and people that make people super cranky. So it just wasn't a good method. The people who are currently active in that space are not usually good actors."