Valve doesn’t often tinker with the Steam Marketplace, with the company often preferring to sit back and let the community take the wheel on pricing, supply and demand. However, in the case of CS:GO, some changes had to be made this week as Valve came across evidence of fraudulent activity and potential money laundering through CS:GO’s community market.
Valve has had to make at least one change to how CS:GO handles its loot containers this year, with players located in France getting an X-ray device to look at the item housed within a container before paying up money for an unlock key. Now, a bigger change is coming that will have an effect on all players. In the past, CS:GO’s loot container keys were allowed to be sold, traded or purchased on the Steam Marketplace rather than directly from Valve. However, the ability to move purchased keys between users is now being taken away due to fraud concerns.
This is one of the biggest changes to the CS:GO marketplace to date but Valve has a solid reason. Writing on the Counter-Strike website, the CS:GO development team wrote that “worldwide fraud networks have recently shifted to using CS:GO keys to liquidate their gains”, adding that “nearly all key purchases that end up being traded or sold on the marketplace are believed to be fraud-sourced”.
Valve does say that many CS:GO key transactions on the marketplace were legitimate, so there will be normal users affected by this change. As a result, any container keys already sat in your Steam inventory and purchased before the 28th of October 2019 will be allowed on the Steam Marketplace. However, any new keys purchased through CS:GO will be tied to the purchaser’s Steam account and can’t be traded, sold or otherwise moved.
This wouldn’t be the first time that a video game economy has been used for fraudulent purposes. In the past, cyber security specialists have uncovered a ‘thriving criminal eco-system’ around Fortnite and other popular games have also been targeted. CD Key marketplaces like G2A have also been known to house sellers that use stolen credit card information and charge-backs to hoard keys to then be sold on.
The main difference for CS:GO is that Valve operates an open marketplace for in-game items and takes a cut on each sale while most other online games do not have an official marketplace. Due to Valve’s involvement in every Steam transaction, the company needs to crack down on fraud attempts swiftly to avoid getting tangled up in any legal mess.
KitGuru Says: Valve does make a noble effort to keep the Steam platform open but unfortunately, that open approach leaves plenty of room for abuse. One day we’re dealing with asset-flipping developers attempting to profit from Steam trading cards and the next, we are hearing about criminals funnelling their ill-gotten gains through Steam marketplace items. This is something that Valve will need to keep a close eye on in the future. They might be able to stamp out fraudulent activity in CS:GO but that doesn’t mean that other games aren’t open for similar abuse tactics.