Valve Disables Counter-Strike Key Trading Because “Nearly All” Trades Were Used for Money Laundering

Valve has turned off key trading in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive today, but not for lack of use. The publisher announced yesterday that it would be disabling key trading between accounts due to seemingly rampant use by “worldwide fraud networks” to liquidate gains, otherwise known as money laundering.

Counter-Strike’s cosmetics, like gun skins and knives, can be unlocked through containers using keys. It’s a model that many games, including Valve’s own Team Fortress 2 and others like Rocket League have used in the past, though most have moved on to other monetization schemes by now. The keys that unlocked the containers were not just purchasable on the store, but tradeable and sellable between players, up until yesterday.

“In the past, most key trades we observed were between legitimate customers,” says Valve’s blog on the matter. “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.”

Keys can still be purchased to open containers, but those keys will no longer be tradeable or sellable, with the exception being pre-existing container keys.

“Unfortunately this change will impact some legitimate users, but combating fraud is something we continue to prioritize across Steam and our products,” Valve says.

Valve’s container system has been in hot water for some time, as it frequently ran into issues with gambling sites and been a common example to point to for loot box concerns and legislation. Other games have even adjusted their own models to avoid CS:GO’s pitfalls.

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