Steam says goodbye to bitcoin, cites 'high fees and volatility'

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A man stands next to the bitcoin sign during Riga Comm 2017, a business technology and innovation fair in Riga, Latvia November 9, 2017. Reuters/Ints Kalnins

It was only last year when Steam had begun accepting bitcoin as payment, but Valve’s digital distribution platform has already announced that enough is enough. According to an official statement, the service would no longer accept the cryptocurrency to purchase games and other products off the platform.

Steam cites “high fees and volatility in the value of Bitcoin” as reasons for cutting ties with the cryptocurrency. “For example, transaction fees that are charged to the customer by the Bitcoin network have skyrocketed this year, topping out at close to $20 a transaction last week (compared to roughly $0.20 when we initially enabled Bitcoin),” the statement reads. Steam has reiterated that its owner, Valve, has no control over the fluctuating state of the currency.

The gaming platform acknowledges that bitcoin has always undergone unpredictable changes in terms of fees and value; a line had to be drawn, however. Steam cites an example of bitcoin losing around 25% in value in just a few days’ time. If for example, a transaction for a purchase is not completed within a certain time frame, the value of the currency is most likely to change, apparently creating problems for the customer.

When this issue occurs, Steam normally refunded the users or even asked them to “transfer additional funds to cover the remaining balance.” Either way, bitcoin network transaction fees would still get in the way. Steam admits that such cases have happened aplenty within the year.

The gaming platform isn't totally closing its doors on bitcoin, though. The statement ends on an optimistic note, on the possibility for Steam to “re-evaluate” bitcoin at a later date.

Back in 2016, Steam partnered with service BitPay, allowing customers to use bitcoin to purchase games off the platform. "We're disappointed we can't work with them right now," James Walpole, BitPay communications manager, said regarding the recent news, as quoted by PCMag.