Back in October of 2021, Valve announced that it would ban games that have NFT’s and Cryptocurrencies from their Steam platform. Shortly after the announcement, a number of games were pulled from the store, that had previously been listed or sold on Steam, citing “At the request of the publisher, (the game) is no longer available for sale on Steam.” Still, despite a number of blockchain-based games being removed, several remain, and it begs the question, why?
Blockchain games, a niche that was once thought to primarily revolve around crypto-investors, has slowly crept their way into the spotlight over the past year. Whether you like the idea, hate the idea, or don’t know what to think, it’s clear that the industry has been split on what should be done about the technology, and trend as a whole. Valve decidedly banned NFT games from their Steam platform last year, which resulted in the removal of several games like Age of Rust and The Six Dragons.
We chose to be upfront about blockchain gaming & NFTs. As a result, we finally lost the battle with Steam. While I’m disappointed for Age of Rust being removed, the point is more to the fact that Blockchain games as whole are going to be removed. This is setback for all.2/4
— Age of Rust (@AgeofRust) October 14, 2021
Many believed that Steams stand on the removal of blockchain games was a rebuke of the technology, or possibly an issue that revolved around the legal implication of carrying blockchain games, especially during a time where governments haven’t quite decided whether they intend to regulate the currencies, incorporate them, or ban them outright. When you look a little closer, however, you see that Steam hasn’t entirely banned every blockchain game, with several still listed as free-to-play, along with a host of others that are listed as upcoming Early Access titles.
One example of this is MIR4. The cross-platform MMORPG by WEMADE that released back in August of 2021. According to Steam’s updated onboarding policy, games that do not comply with the rules and guidelines for distribution, should not be published on the platform. One such rule specifically declares:
“Applications built on blockchain technology that issue or allow exchange of cryptocurrencies or NFTs.”
– Valve, Steam Onboarding Policy
MIR4 falls into this category in a number of different ways. Players can earn Darksteel and smelt it into a currency known as Draco, which can be sold for Wemix Credits, that can eventually be sold at a crypto currency exchange. Players can also mint characters as NFTs and sell them to other players. This process isn’t exactly hidden either. In fact, upon installation of MIR4 on Steam it is clearly stated in the EULA that you accept their use of content based on blockchain technology, including the use of digital-assets such as NFTs.
“Our services include blockchain-based content.
We provide contents based on blockchain technology in conjunction with services from third-party companies.
In order to use blockchain-based content, users must agree to the terms and conditions of a third-party company and complete membership registration to use it.”
–MIR 4 EULA, VII. Blockchain-Based Content
MIR4 isn’t the only blockchain game on the platform that seems to get a pass. CSC, which stands for Crypto Space Commander, is a game by Lucid Sight Inc. that utilizes blockchain. Similar to MIR4, CSC isn’t shy about listing their blockchain-based roots.
“CSC is an open-universe, sandbox-style space MMO with a player-owned economy. Command starships and earn digital items to buy, sell, or trade without limits both inside and outside of the game universe. Experience a free-market Play-to-Own Economy that provides true ownership & freedom.”
-CSC, Steam Page
Undoubtedly, these are not the only games that seemingly are getting a pass, and one tends to wonder if the free-to-play nature of these games somehow provides a precedence to look the other way. Some upcoming games have also listed themselves as Early Access titles on the platform. Games such as Untamed Isles is listed as an early access game, and the team at Phat Loot Studios has even offered Steam Test Keys during their final update of 2021. The turn-based MMO launched a successful Kickstarter back in August of 2021, where they described a major focus of development as “Game first, crypto second.”
“The Untamed Isles focuses on the policy game first, crypto second and does not require blockchain integration to be played by a user. However, most of the items and all of the monsters within the Untamed Isles can be tokenized and can be sold, bought, and traded on the website marketplace in addition to our in-game auction house, allowing players to earn while they play!”
-Untamed Isles, Kickstarter
Whether Untamed Isles will actually release on Steam, has yet to be seen, but the issuance of Steam Keys is a good indicator that there is a high possibility that players with a Steam key can continue updating and accessing the game on the platform throughout their ongoing testing phases.
An argument could be made that Valve isn’t aware that these games are utilizing blockchain, though it doesn’t particularly take a super sleuth to figure that out. Crypto Space Commander for instance, may have changed their name to an acronym, but their description of the game pretty much gives it away. Meanwhile, despite Steams “unwillingness” to accept blockchain games, other prolific game stores such as Google Play have dozens, if not hundreds, of blockchain games listed, while Epic Games Store has stated that they are open to blockchain games being listed, as long as they follow relevant laws, disclose their terms, and are age-rated by ratings groups.
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. https://t.co/6W7hb8zJBw
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) October 15, 2021
After months of harboring these “rogue” free to play blockchain games on Steam, is it possible that Valve will reverse course? Probably not anytime soon, but that doesn’t seem to mean that you won’t find blockchain games listed on the platform.
We reached out to Valve and Lucid Sight Inc. via email for comment.