back to article Games-mart Steam halts Bitcoin payments

Online games-mart Steam has stopped accepting Bitcoin payments. A Wednesday post from the service said the cryptocurrency's volatility made it just too hard to use. “Historically, the value of Bitcoin has been volatile, but the degree of volatility has become extreme in the last few months, losing as much as 25% in value over …

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K
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Re: The only thing more volatile than Bitcoin

To be fair - even after their 30% cut, the games are still f*ck load better value and cheaper than those for XBoxOne and PS4..

Brought my son a new game for xmas, it cost £40, the same game on Steam costs £22, but if you hunt around (cdkeys), you can buy the steam code for £12... I contemplated just building him a PC and the game to go with it (pay for itself over the course of a year)..

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Thumb Up

Re: The only thing more volatile than Bitcoin

Plus you tend to find a PC will hold it's a ability to play games for longer. When the manufacturers get fed up ( roughly every 2-3 years ) they simply release a new console. Unless you keep the old hardware, you won't be playing your old games. I can still play Fallout 1,2,3.NV on my PC I can't on my XboxOne I have an Xbox One I bought simply to play Skyrim and Fallout 4 but I won't be buying a new console, I'll be saving to beef up my PC rig and buy games for that in future. A lot of PC games can be played with just an MS controller on PC ( aforementioned games do ), so feed the HDMI to your TV and you have the same experience as the console without all the disc swapping.

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Re: The only thing more volatile than Bitcoin

I'm with you - pc for the win. Consoles are dead to me as they cannot incorporate the best game control system ever invented bar VR - mouse and keyboard.

However every component of a games PC costs about the same as a console, so cash / backward compatibility isnt a valid argument , you could easily buy a new console every time one comes out ( keeping the old ones + games for retro) and still be paying far less than keeping a "rig" up to date.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The only thing more volatile than Bitcoin

The only controllers are keyboards and mouse.

WASD for the win...

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Re: The only thing more volatile than Bitcoin

No, unless you've bought a loser like the Wii U, you'll be able to play games on your console for 8-10 years. The XB1X and PS4 Pro didn't start a new gen, the old consoles are still being made and supported, and will be for some time.

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Re: The only thing more volatile than Bitcoin

FuzzyWuzzys

I can play F03 and NV on my xbox one absolutely fine.

As for Fo1 & 2, well...I could unpack my Amiga I suppose

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Re: The only thing more volatile than Bitcoin

Keyboards are a terrible input device for gaming, they are ergonomically awful. And WASD is just stupid for movement, why would you want a binary movement control rather than full analog?

Sure a mouse is accurate, but a controller is also accurate when you learn to use the left stick for fine adjustment in coordination with the right stick.

As a VR developer I have plenty of hefty machines at my disposal, but I rarely ever game on them.

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Re: The only thing more volatile than Bitcoin

However every component of a games PC costs about the same as a console, so cash / backward compatibility isnt a valid argument , you could easily buy a new console every time one comes out ( keeping the old ones + games for retro) and still be paying far less than keeping a "rig" up to date.

Sort of. Old consoles often die eventually though, while the price of the an increasingly hard to get replacement often rises (and they are no newer).

I switched to console gaming late 90's when every new PC game seemed to need some new hardware (N64, Dreamcast, Ps2, Xbox&360. Almost twenty years later, I see the advantages of consoles over PC has faded, and I'd be switching back if I still had the inclination or time to game anymore.

Bit of nostalgia in an emulator every few weeks is all I have time for these days.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The only thing more volatile than Bitcoin

Re: The only thing more volatile than Bitcoin

Sledges and other snow equipment today.

13£ on Amazon this morning. 15 minutes after a forecast for a snowstorm on Sunday in the Southern part of the UK - 29.7£/ That is more than 100% in 15 minutes. I wish I had some to sell...

Jokes aside - ANYTHING is volatile nowdays. There is dynamic demand pricing on everything out there resulting in way too much automated code determining pricing. As a result all markets for everything are shaking in a way they never did before.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The only thing more volatile than Bitcoin

"As for Fo1 & 2, well...I could unpack my Amiga I suppose"

Ramlen, you've proven his point, if you had a PC, you wouldn't need to.

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Re: The only thing more volatile than Bitcoin

Keyboards are a terrible input device for gaming, they are ergonomically awful. And WASD is just stupid for movement, why would you want a binary movement control rather than full analog?

Sure a mouse is accurate, but a controller is also accurate when you learn to use the left stick for fine adjustment in coordination with the right stick.

I'm sure people only used wsad because their left hand was hanging around on the left side ofthe keyboard. I use the arrow keys. I wish id WSAD'd now because theirs more buttons hanging around the periphery for other stuff - but its too late to change now.

Growing up in the age of Spectrum and C64 I quickly learned to recognise that "playability" meaning a control system that responded as you wanted was as important if not more than the graphics. a game that stalls while you mash buttons shouting left! right! up! at the screen is no good. I never used a non analog 8 way joystick because its much easier to press to of the 4 direction keys than to guess at the diagonal angle on the joystick. Later on came "Quake" with mouse and keyboard control - a revelation - you could control your character as fast as you could think , and with a little practice the control system became fluid and transparent - you dint notice it . perfect. That only works for FPS games of course , so now thats all I play. Driving games for instance - an analog controller , or a wheel , would be far better but still not like driving a car.

I refuse to believe that a controller can be better for fps even if you "learn to use the left stick for fine adjustment"

You could probably learn to play golf with a cricket bat fairly well , but you're never going to play as well as with a golf bat.

You can learn to drive a supercharged mini or a golf gti round a track as fast as possible and you may do some impressive and exhilarating driving - but you are never going to beat %insert top end car of choice here%

Short of thought control , or maybe really advanced VR , not using a mouse for FPS is a handicap.

Its like playing snooker using a baguette for a cue.

its like sprinting 100m in ski boots

its like playing tennis with a ping pong paddle

If playing an FPS against other real people (who also have mouse) milliseconds and perfect accuracy are paramount - as evidenced by there being no cross platform online arenas , and all console FPS games having some degree of "auto aim" to make you think you're doing it yourself.

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Anonymous Coward

Let's see

If there are N participating nodes and T is the number of accumulated transactions since BTC Year 0, then the data required to be transmitted to reach a consensus round is O(N^2 * T).

Even assuming the number of transactions T is just linear in time, there comes a point at which the system becomes unworkable.

That and the amount of electricity used mining new BTC reaching the level of GNP of nation states.

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Re: Let's see

And if someone gets a quantum computer working presumably it can mine BTC at whatever rate the network can absorb them.

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Re: Let's see

"And if someone gets a quantum computer working presumably it can mine BTC at whatever rate the network can absorb them."

A quantum computer would make no difference. The rate of bitcoins produced remains constant till the end days when they stop at 21 million. Well, if you add more power you might get an advantage for about 2 weeks till the network adjusts itself.

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Re: Let's see

Exactly. Most people, including even many esteemed Reg readers, are confused about what bitcoin mining is. Bitcoins are issued to miners by the system as a reward for so called work done. The work done in this case is the processing of transactions into new blocks in the chain. When the number of bitcoins reaches the arbitrary limit of 21 million no more bit coins will be issued. At the point the only incentive to mine will be to obtain transaction processing fees from bitcoin users.

To control the rate of bitcoin production, the difficulty of the work to be done is increased or decreased by changing the min and max allowable values of the hash of the block, requiring the miner to experiment with different values of a nonce until they arrive at an acceptable hash value.

Being able to tune the difficulty of the work to be done also avoids the scenario of transaction processing consuming every processor on the internet. That can never happen.

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And the other way

But, the other way around, when the value increased before they cashed in, presumably Steam just pocketed the difference?

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Re: And the other way

RTFM

Steam offered a refund.

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Re: And the other way

RTFM

Steam offered a refund.

I read the article as saying that Steam offer a refund as an alternative to paying a higher price (and another transaction fee) in the case that bitcoin falls between quote and completion and saying nothing so I would share the PP's suspicions for now and would seek further evidence were I considering a transaction.

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$20 per transaction fee

I remember when micro-payments were meant to be a big advantage of digital currencies. I don't see how with those kind of fees.

What is the reason transactions are taking so long that fees are changing during the process; is it really so volatile it cannot be avoided or are transactions taking an unreasonably long time?

It seems to me Bitcoin is rapidly becoming a speculation-only vehicle, as useless for trading as gold ingots are. Without real world use it seems it will likely implode.

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Re: $20 per transaction fee

You're quite right. Right now it's in a bubble and because it's passed a specific value speculators have jumped on board which are increasing the prices yet further.

The issue with Bitcoin is that it's no longer suitable for small transactions. This can be remidied by adding a few zeros at the end but even then, if the price rises that high and crashes so low in a short space of time it's still not suitable for small transactions.

A better cryptocurrency would be Litecoin, as that's fairly stable and doesn't suffer from huge fluctuations like Bitcoin does. However even the value of LTC is linked to Bitcoin and has soared in value over the last 6 months.

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Re: $20 per transaction fee

I remember back in the day when some nerds were trying to explain the usefulness of bitcoin, they argued speed of transaction and cost of transactions as superior to regular banking. At the time I thought the argument was dubious at best, as bank transactions were on the order of minutes, and transactions usually included with other services anyway, costing nothing extra.

"But bitcoin isn't vulnerable to the whims of governments and central bankers!" - well sure, but is the whims of the collective speculative investor hivebrain any better?

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Re: $20 per transaction fee

For a laugh, go to any Guardian story on Bitcoin and read all the zealots raving about its revolutionary superiority.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: $20 per transaction fee

Correct. The big problem is that one block gets mined globally about every 10 minutes. Throwing more hardware at it causes the "difficulty" to be increased so it still takes 10 minutes. Every transaction needs to be included in the new block but blocks are fixed size and you and can only get (size dependant) about 2000 transaction per block. This limits throughput to about 1 transaction every 3 seconds with sometimes a very long wait for some transaction to be accepted. Big players speculating can afford to attach a nice and hefty voluntary fee to their transactions to incentivise the miner to include their transaction in the block but transaction for small amounts will inherently have little or no fees for the miners so will not get included in the block until they are all that's left. As such Bitcoin is no longer useful as a currency and its value resides purely in the fact that someone wants to buy it to speculate. In this respect it's far worse than gold ingots, as gold is a metal that can be used for industrial or decorative purposes.

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Re: $20 per transaction fee

And gold actually exists.....

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Re: $20 per transaction fee

TfL can process the payment of my £1.50 bus fare in 0.5 seconds using contactless, and Visa will charge them a transaction fee of 0.3p for doing it.

Obviously their own bank will charge more on top of that, and they have to pay for all the card readers on the buses and station ticket barriers, but those costs would apply for any payment method.

Imagine trying to implement that on bitcoin. TfL has 31 million journeys per day, 90% of them paid using contactless cards, which works out at 323 transactions per second, on average, a lot more at busy times.

That is 100 times the capacity of the bitcoin network, just for one city, and just for expenditure on transport, and even then, it doesn't include expenditure on taxis and non-TfL buses such as National Express, Greenline, Oxford Tube and so on. And then, you would have to wait a couple of hours at the ticket gate for the payment to go through.

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Big Brother

Re: $20 per transaction fee

"But bitcoin isn't vulnerable to the whims of governments and central bankers!"

Yes it is, gov > oh look there's an off button here, gone

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speculators

How can "Investing" in a made up currency be of any value to society?

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Re: $20 per transaction fee

Whilst the total number of genuinely "live" contactless payments generated across the TfL network each day is still a pretty big number and could still quite possibly overwhelm the BTC network, it's nowhere near 90% of 31 million - bear in mind that many users are paying for their journeys either with a PAYG Oyster or with an Oyster containing some variety of season ticket.

And even taking this into consideration, the overall point you're making is still entirely valid - even if TfL alone wouldn't be capable of overwhelming the BTC network, as you point out they're just one of many, many, transaction generators just in London, let alone the rest of the UK, Europe, the world...

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Anonymous Coward

@Jason Bloomberg: Real world use of Bitcoin

But Bitcoin does have real-world use. It's used for money laundering to hide illegal arms and drug sales from turf wars and government enforcers. And if you need to pay a ransomware demand to get your data back, you either lose your valuable but encrypted data or you have to buy into this network, which seems as likely as speculative bubble reasoning why demand for Bitcoin is so high.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Jason Bloomberg: Real world use of Bitcoin

" It's used for money laundering to hide illegal arms and drug sales from turf wars and government enforcers. "

Add the words "and used for tax dodging" and you've got pretty much the 'use cases' for numbered offshore bank accounts, surely?

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Re: $20 per transaction fee

I've had this discussion over the last couple of months with various people who've spoken to me about "investing" in BTC. To me at least, there's literally no value associated with the currency because none of the places that I want to buy things accept it. Maybe if I wanted some private VPN service or whatever, but I don't.

It's just numbers, admittedly numbers that are getting bigger quite quickly. Paper value. Reminds me a lot of the dotcom boom, and I wonder if some of the people being sucked in this time around are too young to really remember that.

Despite all that I did consider buying some just to offload it a week later to the next fool. But I can't be bothered. Think I'll stick with investing in goods, services and assets that are actually tangible.

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Re: $20 per transaction fee

Crypto currency is also touted as being decentralised avoiding transaction fees going to the banks... Maybe at the start it was decentralised but now unless you have a warehouse full of ASICs mining is pointless so for normal users it's decentralised as you can view the block chain but realistically you're not having any more input into it than that.

The problem now is that the value has climbed that high that few people are buying to spend, at some point there will be a tipping point where more coins are being hoarded than spent and the value will come down, still might be worth dropping a few £££ for a couple of months for a gamble.

Also, if doing this monero has jumped from $40 to almost $200 a coin in the last few months... Still small enough that you can mine (slowly) on a decent home rig. Though I suspect that once the industrial scale miners get on it that will end quite quick.

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Re: $20 per transaction fee

OK, so if the contactless split is 99% Oyster / 1% EMV, nobody ever pays for Oyster Credit, the passengers are spread evenly throughout the day and night, and nobody other than TfL customers uses the bitcoin network, then TfL would be able to switch to bitcoin without overwhelming the network.

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Re: $20 per transaction fee

Well the electricity costs alone for the bitcoin network are an order of magnitude larger than Visa's entire sales revenue, and Visa process about 500 times more transactions per day, so having bitcoin miners as your intermediary rather than a bank doesn't make things any cheaper.

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Re: $20 per transaction fee

"Well the electricity costs alone for the bitcoin network are an order of magnitude larger than Visa's entire sales revenue"

Not very green is it? It grates me to think of all those computer cycles that could be used for predicting wether , or SETI , or whatever just used to mine pretend coins , which are only hard to mine becasue theyre designed that way.

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Test case

Its funny how everyone seems to have forgotten that Bitcoin is only an example of the implementation of the amazing new tech we have created called Blockchain. It's basically a test case on HOW a digital currency based on blockchain would work.

Many alternatives have been created and Bitcoin itself has been changed twice this year resulting in the forks to Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Gold. Our current issue with the original Bitcoin is due to a design flaw that is only an issue to to the current network load. Fixing that flaw (increasing the block size or generation speed) will just be a simple bug fix moving more towards a system that can handle the workload we are placing on it. Yes, this may take form of another fork.

This is all part of the ongoing development of Satoshi's original ideas, which may have already been solved by the alt-coins already.

Blockchain is basically the future. It fits in with our move towards distributed computing and will be used to solve other issues we have with transactions involving land ownership, electronic voting and a host of other applications. The entire globe will be able to move to a decentralized digital infrastructure where the entire internet essentially becomes a distributed computing resource used by companies and the public alike. Which is why the threats to Net Neutrality will threaten this.

The "Old Gods" will speculate, wriggle about, moan groan and try to "buy" laws to stop this from happening. They will appear on TV spreading FUD just like microsoft did against the rise of Linux and FLOSS software in general. The Old Gods are already pushing the destruction of the internet's main strength, neutrality. If they succeed they can control and prevent their own death (or maybe evolution), holding our civilization back in the process.

When copyright became too restrictive and openly started strangling the public domain to kill it off, we responded by creating the Creative Commons.

Richard Stallman noticing the increasing tendency towards locking down users into proprietary operating systems kicked off the Free Software movement to counter that. This began the Open Source movement which runs mostly alongside the Free Software movement (with different but largely compatible goals) allowing anyone to take advantage of a more equal playing field. We dont have to remain locked into a companies ideas of how we should use computers thanks to the people involved in these movements.

Every time some of our "Old Gods" have found a way to take advantage of the little person we have naturally struck back with alternatives that at least try and reverse the damage or provide an escape. Bitcoin is just an example of this happening with Blockchain, a whole new technology. The Old Gods cant get that cat back in the bag just like they cant catch the encryption cat that was let it out to the world in the 1990's.

Speculation, FUD, design flaws, bugs, ransomware may kill off bitcoin, but who cares really? Blockchain is out there. Alt-coins galore have already filled any gap. Many will settle eventually.

Bitcoin is like the dot-com boom? Well the dot-com boom and bust happened. Yes, but we still have dot-com today and its huge. We just learned how not to do it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Test case

It is indeed a test case, though not the first. I recall an earlier blockchain system called (I think) digital notary. I reviewed it back in 2003 but didn't have a compelling need for provably uncorrupted records so didn't buy it. Now I can find no references to it so presumably no one else bought it either and it withered and died. Whether Bitcoin will wither and die or spectacularly implode remains to be seen. If it implodes expect all of the other digital currencies to go down with it, not because they have the same problems but because of the fear it will instill.

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Re: Test case

The people investing large sums of money into Bitcoin don't understand what it is. They think of it as a commodity like gold. The current speculative bubble is based on investors with large sums of money and little technical knowledge dumping cash into Bitcoin. It'll be interesting to see where it goes before the bottom falls out. I think we may have a ways to go, it seems that greed is nearly infinite.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Test case

Blockchain is basically the future. It fits in with our move towards distributed computing and will be used to solve other issues we have with transactions involving land ownership, electronic voting and a host of other applications.

Downvoted for sounding almost but not exactly like a public sector technology wonk who's jumped on board the latest hype wagon.

A/C because I work in the public sector and people are having actual serious blockchain discussions along the lines of "here's a technology thing, how can we make our problems fit it?". FML.

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Great Depression

I read Galbraith's book on the Great Depression a few years ago. The way Bitcoin and related-currencies are going now reminds me of the dubious speculative vehicles and investment-layering / leverage that caused the Depression.

Plus the environmental impact of all that 'leccy. Plus the impact on the price of graphics cards that I just want to game with.

Seems like a load of old shite to me.

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Pint

Re: Great Depression

The next seismic shock does look like it will be online and it would be very interesting to find out who has their fingers in the pie of Bitcoin.

Once\when the backside falls out of the online currency do you think Trump\Euro union will step in like what happened in 2007 and delivery bail outs.

It will all depend on how deep their fingers were and who they were!

Yep,it is the same old shite but where there is muck there is money.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Great Depression

"I read Galbraith's book on the Great Depression a few years ago"

Have you read his "Money: Whence it came, where it went". Or any of the rest.

It's almost unbelievable to think that the BBC used to give this chap a series of his own from time to time. No David Attenborough voiceovers, definitely no chance of sales in the USA, no pretty pictures, just facts and ideas.

Left wing BBC? It'd be a great idea.

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Steam sucks

Once upon a time I could buy a game, install it, and play it. Now I have to screw around with endless Steam faffiness, someone in China is trying to hack your account, etc.

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Do they accept Luncheon Vouchers?

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Do they accept Luncheon Vouchers?

Blue Shield Stamps?

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I guess if anyone's bought my games on Steam then Valve would have converted those Bitcoins to US dollars straightaway, rather than hang on to them until I redeemed them? Dammit.

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The mining fee per transaction is like a credit card fee that is rising so much that only more expensive payments are worthwhile. A major downfall of BTC which is only going to get worse.

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