Valve appear to be laying down some new rules for games on Steam, specifically games that involve trading or receiving cryptocurrancy and NFTs. The change has been shared by SpacePirate Games, developers of Age Of Rust, who say they were notified this week about the new prohibition. Over in the Steamworks portal, a new type of content that cannot be published on Steam has been added. "Applications built on blockchain technology that issue or allow exchange of cryptocurrencies or NFTs."
NFTs have wormed into gaming throughout this year. Enough so anyway that Devolver are satirizing them and Will Wright's next game is built on them. If you'd not spotted them popping up in the rest of everywhere recently, they're essentially digital certificates bestowing proof of ownership of often intangible items. They run on the same blockchain tech as cryptocurrencty but aren't currency themselves. Here's an explainer on NFTs generally if that still sounds like a lot of jargon.
As for Age Of Rust, the Steam store page, on which the game is not actually for sale now, explains that "Age Of Rust is a blockchain game, which uses NFT's on the Enjin Platform. Some of the puzzles in Age Of Rust are eligible for players to receive an NFT as an achievement. The game also uses NFTs from other games as well as the Multiverse NFTs from Enjin."
So then, in-game achievements which bestow in-game items which are even more unique than unique in-game items usually are. Also, the blockchain says it's your extra unique item, which grants it value amongst other folks who really like extra unique in-game items. All that and then the environmental impact issues of creating and trading them, of course.
"Behind the scenes, we've had good communication and have been upfront with Steam," SpacePirate games say. Steam's perspective on NFTs, according to SpacePirate, is that "items have value and they don't allow items that can have real-world value on their platform."
Steam already traffics in digital items sold between players with its Marketplace, mind. Special CS:GO knives for wild prices, right? They aren't built on blockchain though, and are bought and sold with non-crypto currencies.
I've reached out to Steam to find out if this policy is actually new, though it doesn't appear in their Steamworks portal earlier this month, and what made their decision to kick NFTs and crypto games off their store. I'll let you know if they answer with their own words on the subject.