The digital gaming giant Valve has announced that about 18 months after adding the possibility of buying games on Steam with Bitcoin, it will no longer accept BTC as a payment method. The original decision to accept the cryptocurrency was never considered a decisive issue for the acceptance of Bitcoin as legal tender, but Steam's dominance of the distribution of digital games for PC and the overlap between enthusiasts of PC games and users of BTC made it a high profile victory in 2016. (To be clear, we're not saying there's a high degree of overlap between players and cryptocurrency enthusiasts, much as we're saying that BTC is probably more popular with players that with, for example, retired Atlanta suburbs.)
There are several reasons why Valve has stopped supporting BTC. First, the fees required to process transactions in the Bitcoin network have increased, up to $ 20, compared to only 20 cents when Valve began accepting the cryptocurrency. Second, the volatility surrounding Bitcoin has become a major concern. The value of the currency has skyrocketed since the beginning of the year, but it has also become much more volatile. Third, and this is a topic that we have discussed when talking about several Bitcoin bifurcations since August 1, it can take a long time to process transactions on the network.
Under normal circumstances, the customer pays for a game with the appropriate amount of Bitcoin plus the transaction fee. This works well when the BTC values are approximately stable, and the transaction volumes are small enough for reasonable processing times and low rates. The problem is that this has not been the case in recent months. BTC values are only guaranteed for a certain period of time; If a transaction is not completed within that window, the amount of BTC required to cover the transaction may change. Lately, much has changed. Valve writes:
The normal resolution for this is to reimburse the original payment to the user or ask the user to transfer additional funds to cover the remaining balance. In both cases, the user receives the Bitcoin network transaction fee again. This year, we have seen an increase in the number of clients entering this state. With the transaction rate so high at this time, it is not possible to reimburse or ask the customer to transfer the missing balance (which he risks paying less, depending on how much the Bitcoin value changes while the Bitcoin network processes the transfer additional).
In other words, it is not just that the price of BTC is volatile, the transaction fees have increased or that it takes longer to complete a transaction, but that all three things happened simultaneously, which resulted in a scenario in which Valve does not want to assume the responsibility of reimbursing the transaction fees it did not choose to charge (or choose the withholding price), while acknowledging that the fact of repeatedly stacking these fees to users due to circumstances beyond their control is similar unsustainable .
Volatile is undoubtedly the right word for BTC activity. On November 7, Coinbase recorded a price per BTC of $ 7,095. From that date until now, the currency has dropped to $ 5,871 and has been briefly exceeded, today, to just over $ 16,000 (Bitcoin prices have varied widely from one exchange to another, so you will see figures as high as $ 19K in other exchanges). Valve notes that it could try to support BTC again at some time in the future, and that it will continue to work with clients on issues related to transaction fees and insufficient payments.