Trading various skins (and hats) has been a big part of Valve’s small and static stable of games for a long time now. The landscape of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is changing, though, and Valve is taking measures to stop it, according to a post spotted by Vice.
In the patch notes for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive‘s October 28 update, Valve announced that players can no longer trade the container keys used to unlock skins in the long-running multiplayer game. Valve explains in the post:
“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.”
If you like to buy keys to open containers, you won’t be affected by this. The change focuses on trading the keys and posting them to the market.
Counter-Strike: Money Laundering
The phrase “worldwide fraud networks” is a pretty scary choice of words that calls to mind the kind of people you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley. And while Valve says this shift is recent, the behavior is nothing new. A 2017 law school paper points to instances in 2017 and earlier of tradeable items being abused on Steam’s marketplace.
In that case, the price of earbuds (for your digital character) skyrocketed to upwards of $75. The buyers then sold the buds almost immediately for less than a third of that price. People don’t usually make a business out of losing 66% of their value on something unless there’s no value to the thing and it’s just an excuse to move money.
With this option taken away, it’ll be interesting to see if other Valve games see similar activity or if they’ll require similar patches.