PayPal and Wire Transfer arriving soon
While the Leipzig GCDC was primarily about Valve’s games, one piece of Steam news has come of it. PayPal and direct ‘wire’ transfers are shortly to join credit cards as accepted purchasing methods. The original hlportal.de interview is here; an English translation can be found on the Steam Forums.
For the consumer, this is all good news. Although common in America, credit cards aren’t so popular in countries like Germany—from where, perhaps not incidentally, more Steam games were purchased last month than the USA. Wire transfers are popular in Europe for being both instantaneous and largely secure (they are apparently quite expensive internationally, but the extent of that in comparison with cards is unclear), and PayPal, while not the most trustworthy of financial services, is undeniably popular.
On Valve’s side, things are a little different. Wire transfer is still a solid option, at least as far my knowledge goes, but PayPal offers absolutely no buyer protection for digital distributors and plenty of opportunity for fraud. Quite what Valve have done to offset what is certain to be an enormous influx of fraudsters is an internal matter; perhaps they have limited PayPal transactions to certain regions, but it is more likely that we won’t find out what’s going on without ending up behind bars.
Another issue for Valve will be age verification. Credit cards are only widely accessible to those above 18 and have so far acted as a stand-in system, but with wire transfer almost anyone can purchase anything. Without some form of verification, it will surely only be a matter of time until anti-violence protestors get wind of the surreptitious backdoor shovelling of immoral filth into their children’s computers. Plus of course, allowing kids to buy games of their own accord isn’t going to do the already worryingly childish wider community any favours.
Ultimately though, there is little doubt that this is a good move. We’ll be seeing a significant boost to Steam users in the months following the systems’ introduction, assuming they are reliable, and regardless of age that is a positive thing.