Steam could soon join on the Bitcoin bandwagon with support planned for the currency, according to leaks from the Steam developer’s forum. The game distribution service currently serves over 150 million gamers around the world with hats, gems, and trading cards, and occasionally sells a few games too. At certain times of the year, it becomes a black hole for wallets around the globe during a sale, and adding Bitcoin to the list of supported currencies would grant millions more gamers without access to a credit card with the means to buy games and items on the Steam store. By my reckoning, Valve would be the first international company of it’s kind to offer Bitcoin as a form of payment, and it would save them bucketloads of money in the process as well.
The leak regarding Bitcoin adoption started on Reddit, although it’s been widely known that Valve was looking into Bitcoin earlier this year. The problem with that news leak was that no-one had any idea how long it could take for Valve to implement the payment system. They’ll be using Bitpay, one of the largest Bitcoin currency converters in the USA.
Compared to traditional currency systems, or payments using credit cards, Valve will end up saving between 3-4% per credit card transaction on fees added by banks and Paypal, which might amount to millions of dollars a year saved in transaction fees.
The post on Valve’s developer forums tells devs not to worry about implementing support for Bitcoin in any way, and that the change will happen in an update that is forthcoming. In-game purchases that use Steam should also use Bitcoin, so there’s a fairly good chance that you can soon use what’s in your Bitcoin wallet to purchase keys and skins in Counter-Strike.
For those of you still confused, Bitcoin is a digital currency that is peer-to-peer based, and not held or controlled by any one bank, company, or person (although, arguably, Bitcoin banks themselves have some degree of power). Because it’s not a recognised, legal tender in many countries, it doesn’t have to go through the same systems for regular currency, which means that it costs almost nothing to send a million dollars through Bitcoin to that friendly Nigerian prince who promises you a billion republic credits in return. While Bitcoin itself doesn’t have any intrinsic value, it is given value based on what other users trade for it. 1 BTC trades for $429.25 today.