Valve boss Gabe Newell doesn't regret banning "sketchy" NFTs from Steam

"The people in the [NFT] space, though, tend to be involved in a lot of criminal activity and a lot of sketchy behaviours."

Valve president and co-founder Gabe Newell claims anybody hocking NFTs isn't the sort of people the company wants to be doing business with.

In a wide-ranging interview with Rock Paper Shotgun, Newell was asked whether he was concerned that Valve might be left behind after banning titles that integrate NFT and cryptocurrency technology from Steam -- especially as other major companies like Ubisoft, Bandai Namco, Square Enix and more invest in the tech.

Breaking down his stance on the controversial topic, Newell said it's important to separate the underlying technology from the actors who are using it -- but indicated the latter aren't people who have consumer's best interests at heart.

"The notion of digital ownership, and shared universes, are all pretty reasonable," said Newell. "The people in the space, though, tend to be involved in a lot of criminal activity and a lot of sketchy behaviours. So it's much more about the actors than it is about the underlying technology, or the rationale for what we're doing."

Newell also noted that Steam did accept crypto payments at one point, but said the volatility associated with the tech started to rub customers the wrong way.

"There was the issue of volatility: you don't want your pricing to vary when anchored to people's wages. So if you think of 'how much I make,' right? It happens to be denominated in things like euros or dollars or whatever," continued Newell. "They don't want to find out that there's tremendous volatility when they're actually purchasing things day to day. Like, 'why did I spend $497 one day to buy a game, and the next day I spent 47 cents, what's going on here?'"

Ultimately, Valve acknowledged that volatility is a huge negative in the medium of exchange, and realized the benefits of supporting crypto transactions didn't outweigh the downsides. Fraud was another major issue for the company, with Newell explaining "the vast majority" of crypto translations on Steam were fraudulent. 

It was "out of control," said Newell, who believes the NFT market is currently facing similar issues.

"The actors that are currently in this NFT space, they're just not people you really are wanting to be doing business with," he continued. "That doesn't say anything about the underlying technology, it's just a reflection of the people right now who are viewing it as an opportunity to rip customers off, or engage in money laundering, or other things like that."

You can hear more from Newell by checking out the full Q&A on Rock Paper Shotgun.

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