Tech by VICE

Is Valve About to Add Bitcoin Payments to Steam?

It's got at least as good a chance as Half-Life 3.

by Jordan Pearson
Feb 9 2016, 6:58pm

Counter-Strike: Source. Image: Valve

In terms of companies hopping on the cryptocurrency bandwagon, Valve would be a big one.

After all, a host of third party businesses that let people buy games for Bitcoin have popped up around Valve's cloud-based gaming platform Steam. One business claims to process hundreds of Bitcoin transactions per week for in-game skins for Steam games, with one transaction totaling $25,000. Another claimed in a Reddit comment to have done more than $1 million in Bitcoin business on Steam.

Now, it looks like Valve may be gearing up to implement Bitcoin payments on its Steam service, likely taking a chunk of business away from these third party operations. According to a Reddit post, a user found numerous text references (or "strings") to Bitcoin payments through payment service BitPay on the Steam Translation Server, where vetted users volunteer to translate Steam updates into different languages.

Valve did not respond to Motherboard's request for comment, and a BitPay representative wrote back in an email, "We don't comment on internet rumors, so I'm afraid I can't help you here." BitPay did not respond to follow-up emails.

According to a representative from SteamDB, a third party organization unaffiliated with Valve that trawls Steam servers for information, the text in the Reddit post is indeed from the translation server, and relates to the Steam Store. However, the representative noted, in his experience, just because a text string is on the server doesn't mean it's going to be implemented.

In 2014, for example, SteamDB released the details of upcoming changes to Steam services that were found in databases including the translation server. While some of these changes were actually implemented just months later by Steam, some were not, the representative said.

"I guess Valve sometimes changes their mind," the SteamDB representative wrote. "One example is a string explaining how to set up Steam's two factor authentication with Google Authenticator, but that ended up just being supported in the Steam app itself."

Perhaps the most damning evidence against Steam implementing Bitcoin anytime soon, however, is a reference to another prospective Valve product appearing in a Steam database last year: the long-awaited and possibly abandoned Half-Life 3.

Don't hold your breath.