In an attempt to tackle fraudulent uses of CSGO case keys, Valve has issued a statement on its October 28 blog announcing that CSGO case keys will no longer be tradable at all.
CSGO case keys bought prior to October 28th will remain unaffected and can still be tradable but the company has now stated that any future 'container keys purchased in-game can no longer leave the purchasing account' as per their statement.
While this change comes out of the blue, Valve has been making steady strides in this direction. If go back a few months, they implemented a crackdown on skin trading and betting.
It's clear that Valve want to rid their ecosystem of both the unlicenced gambling and fraud that has been prevalent recently.
What future for CSGO economy?
Changes to the economy in CSGO have been a hot topic for a while, but not like this, to steal a famous line. All the discussion has been about how the way the in-game rewards have hurt the competitive integrity, with round loss bonuses and the dreaded Krieg getting a lot of hate, but Valve have quietly moved to make a much larger alteration in the background.
It’s fair to say there wasn’t really a leak or indication that this was in the pipeline, but in the simplest terms possible, it is a move that makes a massive amount of sense. What Valve created as a fun addition to their FPS has morphed into a totally different beast, and the statement released by the game developer shows just how far the skin market had come, for better or worse.
The second par in the statement released by Valve was particularly worrying, with the company confidently stating that ‘nearly all key purchases that end up being traded…are believed to be fraud-sourced’. How organised and serious the crime was is debateable, with differing theories, but some commenters have suggested is was as simple as people using VPNs to take advantage of the lag when Valve updated currency rates for in-game items and sell things for a quick profit by faking their location.
As had been stated many times, the real problem is that items in CSGO, and beyond according to some users, have started to become a sort of currency that can be more stable that some real-world currencies. This put a company that can barely manage to run two titles at the same time under a huge amount of pressure, and pressure they were totally unqualified to deal with, and it is understandable they’d want to back away from their game becoming a tool for international fraud, as we saw in the wave of bans handed out to skin sites in recent years.
A quick visit to CSGO trading forums suggests that users are already ahead of the game, with items such as Dota 2 arcanas being used as substitutes for keys due to the fact they also hold their value, which was the original appeal of keys to traders who are due to be affected. The effect this has on CSGO as a game will remain to be seen, but existing evidence suggests that overall the game should be fine, at least in terms of the competitive side.
Just as when we saw the banwave of skin trading sites, and the token lawsuits that followed, you will find naysayers stating the keys and skins are important to CSGO’s appeal. However, outside of the Major there is very little reason for a person using CSGO for financial purposes to ever pay attention to the esport itself, as most events reward the watcher with absolutely nothing, and therefore logically pass the fraudsters and traders by.
The enduring brilliance of the competitive side is what keeps CSGO alive, and the loss of the skin market won’t change that. Cleaning up the peripheries of the game is only likely to have a benefit long term, but it seems like this move isn’t the one Valve needed to make if they actually want to prevent their in-game items being used in this way, as the market they are trying to shut down has already moved on. The intentions were obviously good, but once again it seems like Valve are a step behind.