Videogame developer Valve Corporation has restricted the use of certain items in the game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Title due to concerns about money laundering.
The CS:GO blog announced on Monday that keys sold within the game to open loot boxes “can no longer leave the purchasing account” and “cannot be sold on the Steam Community Market or traded.” The blog clarified that keys will continue to be sold through the game and the trade / selling ban had no effect on pre-existing keys.
The blog clarified that “legitimate customers” were involved in “most” key trades until recently. But worldwide networks of fraud have recently moved to use CS:GO keys to liquidate their profits. At this point, it is suspected that almost all large transactions that end up being exchanged or sold on the internet are fraud-sourced. We have therefore agreed the newly acquired keys will not be tradable or marketable.
This is Valve’s latest punishment, as back in 2016 they were forced to crack down on third-party betting sites that used virtual items known as’ skins’ as gambling currencies in-game. More than $5b was reportedly wagered on these platforms using skins in 2016, with Valve taking through its Steam store a share in the proceeds from skin purchases.
The outcry prompted gambling regulators around the world to take a closer look at videogames and loot boxes, with many of these regulators finding that loot boxes contained the same form of system of reward as online casino games.
In July, in a meeting between British parliamentarians and the UK Gambling Commission, CS:GO was called out for criticism for supposedly encouraging children to play with loot boxes. Valve has consistently denied gambling is involved or encouraged.
While there have been some cringe-worthy comments from videogame execs about loot boxes, the industry is gradually dealing with the reality that its wild west age is drawing to a close and its gravy train is running out of steam rapidly.