A group of 29 NFT developers, technology advocacy groups, and Fight For the Future (a nonprofit focused on digital rights) are asking Valve to remove its ban on blockchain games from Steam. They openly wrote, “In the spirit [Steam]’s] pioneering vision we ask you to take a chance upon this rapidly growing technology.”
This technology was effectively banned from Steam when Valve introduced a rule that prohibits applications that “issue or permit exchange of cryptocurrency or NFTs.” Although Valve has not publicly explained the reason behind this decision, SpacePirate, Age of Rust developer, said that Valve does not want items that have “real-world value” on Steam.
The letter from NFT developers describes Valve’s decision to change policy as a shift in policy. They also note that Valve was one of the pioneers of trading digital items such as Steam Trading Cards and Counter-Strike skins.
The letter states that Valve is known for being open to new ideas and being innovative, not just with their games but also with the Steam platform. Valve was a pioneer in changing the way gamers trade and sell digital games a decade ago. They probably understand the potential impact of a concrete medium. We ask you to take a chance with this rapidly growing technology in the spirit of your pioneering vision. Remember your roots, let the industry prove it is a positive contributor to overall gaming ecosystem, then reverse your decision to ban a whole category of software from Steam.
Chris LoVerme, SpacePirate CEO, argues that “the future gaming is decentralized player assets, where gamers can be valued for their time spent in-game.”
NFTs are unique receipts that show ownership of a digital item. NFTs are typically bought with Ethereum, a cryptocurrency that requires large amounts of computing power and, therefore, huge amounts of environmentally harmful energy consumption to function. NFTs have so far mainly benefited the already rich and powerful, and attracted a lot malfeasance within a short period. We’ve seen scammers get millions of dollars after one game was discovered using stolen art.
NFT games allow players to “own” their games. This, according to the letter, can lead to exclusive in-game items that could theoretically be sold for money, or transferred to another game. Although exclusivity is appealing, it feels like pure fantasy at the moment. The creation of unique characters, skins, or weapons is not possible from nowhere. Instead, developers would have to make them and place them in the games exactly as they do now. One of the letter’s signers has created The Six Dragons. This game allows players to freely trade and sell their game assets for real-world value. Which game universes? It doesn’t.
Many blockchain games promise that players will make money by playing them. Many of the letter’s signers also pitch their games as “play to earn.” Official websites often place a lot of emphasis on money-making and ownership, making it difficult to understand why anyone would want the games. MyMetaverse’s tagline reads, “Make money, Save the World.” This is a site that is mostly placeholders.
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney announced on Twitter, just after Steam had made its decision that it will support NFT games and blockchain games. This was despite previous statements that it would not.
Valve has not yet responded to the letter. Fight for the Future, the organization that is leading the petition, previously advocated net neutrality and against Blizzard suspending Chung Ng Wai. The funding sources for the petition include Sonos, The Shuttleworth Foundation, an audio company, Voqal and The Ford Foundation, which were founded by The Ford Foundation, an ultra-wealthy entrepreneur who created the company that distributed Linux Ubuntu.