February 8, 2016 – Several lines found on Steam’s translation servers indicate Valve will be implementing bitcoin payment in their game DRM platform in future versions. They’ll be using the Bitpay API for handling in-store transactions. For privacy and security-minded gamers, as well as those in countries that suffer from region-locking and unfavorable pricing practices, this is a huge value-add.
Valve is known for their comparatively open and accessible corporate practices — the core design statement of their industry-leading DRM and sales platform is to make buying games easier than piracy. They’ve always been forward thinking regarding developing their services, bringing real gaming support and development to the Linux ecosystem in an industry where open development was considered a pipe dream (pun most certainly intended.) It comes as no surprise that they’re bringing bitcoin to the gaming mass market before other mainstream DRM platforms are considering it as an option. There are bitcoin game-payment solutions out there, like Green Man, but having inline support for digital currencies is a huge step for bitcoin’s entry into mainstream use.
Bitcoin in Steam means more than just better chances of adoption, which is significant in itself for a currency that was primarily used for illegal transactions and duty-free alpaca socks in its earliest stages of adoption. People in emerging markets will find themselves able to access Steam as an option for gaming, where they previously were limited by a lack of payment provider support and region locking due to fraud risk. For those Gamers using Bitcoin already, it means a more secure way to pay for your games, without having to store your personal info remotely, something Valve has interst has vocally supported in years past. Here’s the full readouts from the Steam translation servers:
Bitcoin transactions are authorized through the BitPay website. Click the button below to open a new web browser to initiate the transaction.
Tips for Bitcoin customers
This process can take up to 60 seconds. To avoid purchasing failures, please do not hit your back button or close the bitpay window before the process is complete.
Note: Any approved refunds for purchases made with Bitcoin can only be credited to your Steam Wallet
Your purchase is currently in progress and is waiting for confirmation of Bitcoin delivery from BitPay. This process can take several minutes to a few days for confirmation. Valve will send an email receipt to you when payment is received for this purchase. During this time you may continue shopping for other games, though you will not be able to re-purchase any products that are pending in this transaction.
For questions regarding your payment processing status, please contact BitPay [https://bitpay.com/].
The move makes a lot of sense from a business standpoint for Valve, too. Low overhead and accessibility reign supreme in mass distribution, so the features associated with Bitcoin payment tie in uniquely with their infrastructure, where the cost of physical shipping is eliminated, putting a larger percentage of overhead on the handling of monetary transactions. Bitpay has much lower fees associated with it than traditional credit card payment processors, and chargeback fraud and user information leaks are a lot less likely if their users adopt Bitcoin. It would not be surprising to see valve incentivise this new service once it’s ready for the release version of the client.
The most recent metric for the number of active Steam users is 125 million. It is currently the largest gaming platform in the world, with more than three times as many users as there are current-gen console owners. If bitcoin garners widespread adoption in this community, other DRM platforms are likely to follow suit, getting Bitcoin one step closer to a cash-like level of acceptance.
What do you think of Valve’s practices and acceptance of bitcoin? Make sure to let us know in the comments!
Images courtesy of Bitpay, Valve inc.
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