Two of the largest PC video game stores, Steam and Epic Games, have adopted different approaches to blockchain and non-fungible token (NFT)-based games — Steam has shunned them while Epic is open to it.

Fast facts

  • As NFT games like Axie Infinity are soaring in popularity, Valve, which operates Steam, has added games “built on blockchain technology that issue or allow exchange of cryptocurrencies or NFTs” to its list of applications that cannot be published on the platform. The addition of the new rule was brought to light by a blockchain and NFT-based game developer called SpacePirate on Twitter last week. According to the tweet, Steam’s change in policy was made because Valve does not allow the use of items in games that have real-world value.
  • Taking this opportunity, Valve rival Epic Games is ready to embrace blockchain and NFT-based games albeit with certain limitations. Epic Games CEO and founder Tim Sweeney had said last month the company has no plans of “touching” NFTs because of scams in the space. However, the company is not shutting it out for developers. Last week, after news of Valve banning blockchain and NFT games came out, Sweeney tweeted that the company welcomes “innovation in the areas of technology and finance.”
  • According to Sweeney, blockchain and NFT-based games can be published on the Epic Games store provided that they comply with financial laws, disclose how blockchain is used in their game and have appropriate age ratings. Additionally, these games cannot use Epic’s payment service to accept crypto payments and therefore must set up their own payment mechanisms.
  • Valve is an American video game developer and publisher known for games like Dota 2 and Counter-Strike. Epic Games, on the other hand, is known for hit games like Fortnite. It is likely that Valve is being cautious and trying to steer clear of controversy because of NFT-related scams that are becoming increasingly frequent. For instance, the developer of the Evolved Apes NFT project that promised a fighting game disappeared with around US$2.7 million of investor funds. In August, a fan of Banksy, a world renowned London-based street artist, was duped into buying a fake Banksy NFT although the hacker later returned the funds.
  • For Epic Games, embracing blockchain games while its competitor is rejecting it simply means capturing the client base that will be turned away from Valve. While Epic’s promise is a ray of hope for blockchain and NFT game developers, it is important to remember that developers cannot just switch platforms overnight. Epic Games’ self-publishing platform is still in closed beta and the company determines the games that can join on a case-to-case basis.