Valve has announced a ban on the resale of loot box 'keys' in its popular multiplayer shooter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive - but it's money laundering, not gambling, that has forced its hand.
Loot box mechanics, where players are encouraged to buy unlock tokens with real-world money in exchange for a chance at winning some much sought after in-game item, have been under increasing scrutiny of late. While the UK's Gambling Commission has denied they come under its purview unless an official route for exchanging virtual prizes for real-world money exists, companies including Apple, Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony have all introduced rules on how the odds are displayed to users following scrutiny from US senators and the UK Commons.
Now, Valve has announced it is dropping the ability to resell 'container keys' from its popular Counter-Strike: Global Offensive shooter - though it's not the gambling aspect that has the company concerned, but rather a growing trend for the platform to be used for money laundering operations.
'Starting today, CS:GO container keys purchased in-game can no longer leave the purchasing account. That is, they cannot be sold on the Steam Community Market or traded. Pre-existing CS:GO container keys are unaffected – those keys can still be sold on the Steam Community Market and traded,' the company explains in an announcement published late last night. 'Why make this change? In the past, most key trades we observed were between legitimate customers. However, worldwide fraud networks have recently shifted to using CS:GO keys to liquidate their gains. At this point, nearly all key purchases that end up being traded or sold on the marketplace are believed to be fraud-sourced. As a result we have decided that newly purchased keys will not be tradeable or marketable.'
'For the vast majority of CS:GO users who buy keys to open containers, nothing changes; keys can still be purchased to open containers in their inventory. They simply can no longer be traded or transacted on the Steam Community Market. Unfortunately this change will impact some legitimate users, but combating fraud is something we continue to prioritise across Steam and our products.'
The change is live now.
February 24 2020 | 12:00