Why doesn’t Gabe Newell like cryptocurrencies?

What has Gabe Newell, father of Valve and Steam, he is not convinced at all by the ecosystem of cryptocurrencies, NFTs, miners and others It is not something that can catch us by surprise, because it actually comes a long way. For a long time now, Steam has been persecuting and expelling all titles that, without informing their users, dedicate PC resources to mining “cryptos”. At any hint that a game is masking a miner, their days on the platform are numbered.

But the thing does not stop there. As we told you a few months ago, the game store run by Gabe Newell went one step further, and decided to expel all games with cryptocurrencies or NFTs from its catalog. Since then Steam is forbidden territory for this type of titles, in a movement that at the time seemed to go against the current of the industry, since 2021 was the year chosen by many developers and distributors to consider the inclusion of non-fungible tokens in their titles. A movement that, as we already remembered when talking about fraud related to NFTs, had a fairly negative reception from players.

Still, despite the fact that the negative opinion about the landing of cryptocurrencies and NFTs in games is widespread, there is a considerable community of users who do not share it, and that at the time they accused Gabe Newell of acting with dark intentions when making this decision. The most common criticism I’ve heard is that Valve and Steam were concerned about losing control over the financial transactions that take place through games. Personally, it seems to me a weak argument, but still I understand the doubts.

The controversy intensified even more when, after Gabe Newell’s decision, the Epic Games Store announced that, unlike Steam, its main rival in the digital game store sector, they were open to this type of title. It costs little, very little, to imagine Tim Sweeney thinking of this action as a master move against Gabe Newell, which would also add points to his image as a defender of open platforms, in the context of Epic Games’ lawsuit against Apple.

Now, perhaps a little late but with very solid arguments, in an interview with PC Gamer, Gave Newell has explained the reasons why Valve decided to stop accepting payments in Bitcoin and, subsequently, expel games with cryptocurrencies and NFT from Steam.. And yes, in the plural, since behind the decision we find not one, but several reasons.

  • Fraud: The first is the high volume of fraud associated with cryptocurrencies and NFTs. Gabe Newell affirms in the interview that when Steam opened the door to payments in cryptocurrencies, back in 2016 (withdrew them a little more than a year later, in 2017) approximately 50% of the operations related to them were fraudulent.
  • Price fluctuations: anyone who follows the prices of the blockchain world with a minimum of attention will know that they fluctuate constantly. This, when integrating them into a payment system that aims to be stable in terms of prices, is, in his own words, «a complete nightmare«.
  • commissions: Another key aspect for Gabe Newell is the high commissions that must be paid to carry out many operations with cryptocurrencies, including the purchase and sale of NFTs. When Steam stopped accepting Bitcoin payments, some commissions could reach $20, which is crazy considering the price of games.

Furthermore, and in a much broader vision of blockchain technology, Gave Newell states that its possibilities are very, very interesting, but in his opinion, the uses that are being given to it so far are not aligned with these possibilities to create something truly useful. And given the current model of many initiatives, I personally couldn’t agree more with that statement.

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