This is a sponsored piece from Esportsbets24.com
Back in late March 2018, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive was updated and the popular player activity of ‘skin trading’ was changed massively.
Valve Corporation, the creators of CS:GO, introduced strict time limitations on skin trading, leading a great many who make money from doing so to panic sell their inventories. YouTube pundits and skin traders speculated as to whether CS:GO is dying, but others have taken a less dramatic view of the change.
In this piece, we’ll look closer at the Valve Corporation, CS:GO itself, skin trading and what it entails, and how these changes might affect the lucrative gambling industry (people bet skins on game outcomes for real money) which has sprung up around CS:GO in recent years.
A brief overview of the Valve Corporation
Valve is a game developer based out of Washington, USA. It’s been in the business since August 1996 and has released several hit games such as Half-Life, Portal and DOTA 2. Arguably its biggest success is Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Founded by ex-Microsoft employees Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington, the company had its first mega-hit game in 1998 with the release of half-life, and Harrington left the company shortly thereafter in 2000.
Since then, Valve’s repertoire of games has steadily increased in quality, and in 2002 it released Steam, a hugely popular digital software distribution platform. Steam is now the largest game distribution platform on PC.
CS:GO – Valve’s greatest hit?
While Valve’s greatest game is a hotly contested topic, CS:GO is certainly one of the favourites, although this one was developed in conjunction with Hidden Path Entertainment.
This multiplayer first-person shooter took the web by storm when it was first released in August 2012 and remains one of the most popular, and most established, esports titles today.
Based on counterterrorism operations, CS:GO sets two teams against each other – terrorists versus a counter-terror unit. Naturally, a game of this nature entails the use of weapons and plenty of them.
This is where skins and skin trading come into play.
What are skins in CS:GO and why do players trade them?
Skins are simply weapons with special cosmetic finishes. They can apply to any of the weapons found in the game from handguns to machine guns and rifles. They do not enhance the weapons or offer any edge in gameplay and are sought after for status within the game and their financial value.
There are three ways to obtain skins in CS:GO:
They can be earned within gameplay
They can be picked up by opening ‘crates’ within the game
They can be bought on the open market on platforms such as Steam, which is owned by Valve Corporation.
Some skins have special features such as the ability to see how many kills have been made with a weapon while it has been in the current player’s hands. This is known as a StatTrak.
Players value skins mostly for status and their potential real-money value. As stated previously, there is no inherent advantage to having a particular skin. They are sought after because they are aesthetically pleasing, or because they can be traded and/or gambled for real money.
Due to the real money element, a lucrative industry has sprung up around skin trading. For example, sites like CS.money derive a healthy revenue stream based on enabling players to trade skins.
So, why has Valve cracked down on skin trading, and exactly what limitations has it put in place?
The skin trading cooldown and why it happened
To put it simply, the new update in CS:GO makes it so that a player must be in possession of a skin for at least seven days before it can be traded again between players or on other third-party sites. Skin trades on Steam already had this time limitation in place.
Why has Valve introduced this limitation? To prevent fraud and scams, it claims. It’s true that there are many fraudulent third-party sites involved in the trading of skins, with pre-programmed bots often instantly messaging players who had won new skins to offer them cash via PayPal for their newly acquired wares. This could be repeated multiple times, with the site earning a percentage each time the skin was traded.
Valve claimed that when players trade skins directly, the average frequency is once a week, whereas third-party sites trade much more frequently and have become tainted by various scams and fraudulent practices. It’s this which Valve wants to crack down on with this latest update.
There has been a mixed reaction to the update. Many have claimed that skin trading is a thing of the past (just take a look at this Steam community thread to see the reactions), whereas others have taken a more proactive approach and asked Valve to reverse its decision. A petition doing just that has received over 150,000 signatures at the time of press.
Others claim that Valve is trying to eliminate third-party sites and keep all skin trading on its Steam platform in order to keep control over every element of the game, not to mention collecting valuable user-data in the process.
Ban on skin trading for Dutch customers
Whether skin trading should be considered gambling or not has been a hot topic since loot boxes first became a thing. One side would argue that it is indeed gambling because the content of the loot boxes is decided by chance. However, the opposing side claims that since boxes always guarantee some sort of item, it is clearly not to be seen as gambling. So, in conclusion, there are two sides of this whole skin trading debate.
In more recent news, Valve has been forced to take actions against skin trading in the Netherlands. Dutch players are no longer able to trade CS:GO or Dota 2 skins via the Steam marketplace. This move was a response from Valve due to a ruling from Dutch Gaming Authority where they deemed loot boxes as a type of gambling.
If more countries choose to follow Netherlands lead, it could damage Valve’s economy severely. With that in mind, we believe that Valve will try to find a solution for situations where countries ban skin trading, some sort of compromise is inevitable.
How will this affect the gambling industry?
It’s no secret that esports gambling is on the rise, and one of the things players gamble when engaged with CSGO betting sites is skins. Therefore, the inability to move skins on quickly will undoubtedly have a negative impact on CS:GO gambling.
While it’s unlikely to wipe gambling on the game out completely, it will most certainly slow it down. Whereas players may have received a skin and immediately been able to gamble it for real money (for example on the outcome of a game), they will now have to wait seven days to do so.
Not only will the update affect the frequency with which players can gamble their skins, but it may also have a negative impact on their real-money value, to begin with. Many players have expressed concern that players will lose interest in skins as a result of the update, causing their value to plummet. Naturally, this means less value being bet when players place skins on the line by gambling them.
In fact, many prominent skin traders have claimed on YouTube and through blog posts that they have already sold their entire collections in anticipation of this value drop, while others have urged their followers not to unload since this will actually cause skin values to plummet.
Ultimately, only time will tell how the new updates impact CS:GO gambling, the user experience, and the popularity of skins as a whole. Either way, despite the protests, Valve has shown no signs of reversing its decision.