CS:GO, Gambling and Valve
If you have been reading the recent gaming news about Valve and Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), you may know all about this already. This report is not here to tell you more information, it’s just to cover what happened and give you my opinion on what happened and how I feel about it.
They say that when you gamble there is only really one winner. I believe that if you are skilled at playing poker or a similar game which involves skill as well as luck then you might have a very good chance of walking out of the casino with more money than you went in with. You have to remember one thing, any company to do with gambling are in the business of taking your money and trying their very hardest to keep it. If they fail to do this it could mean people lose their jobs, houses, livelihood etc.
Games have been making DLC skin-based content that you earn by playing the game and opening crates or whatnot for quite a while now. Some of these games only give you skins, something to make your character look different, and some (e.g. Team Fortress 2) have collectable weapons that actually alter some of the gameplay which may, or may not, completely unbalance the game. These added elements have a level of rarity which then gives them some sort of after-market value, similar to paying for a rare Magic: The Gathering card on e-bay.
The skins for CS:GO has been in the news highlight this month due to a scandal involving at least two popular gaming YouTube content producers. Trevor “TmarTn” Martin and Tom “Syndicate” Cassel have recently been caught up in a scandal involving the website CSGoLotto which I am led to believe both of them have a major involvement in. The scandal comes in two major forms and this is highlighted rather well by the folks at h3h3 productions. It seems that the two were not entirely honest about their involvement with the website and were actively advertising it in their videos. Now, this site allows you to gamble the skins that you have in order to get new skins, trying to get the rare ones to complete your collection or look to resell them yourself and make a bit of extra cash. Both YouTube creators have streamed going onto the website and frequently winning rare skins. Now I’m not saying that either creator manipulated the odds on the website in order to show that you can win big on it but I am very suspicious of them. As far as I am aware there is no evidence pertaining to them altering the odds.
The second black mark comes when you realise that people as young as 13 can register and play on this site. The site itself states in its terms that you must be 18, but all you need to access the site is a Steam account and you only need to be 13 to own a Steam account. It’s not just this site, this is actually one of many that run a similar deal. You could argue that it’s down to the parents to ensure that they know what their child is up to on the computer; You could argue that it is down to the government to keep their eyes out for such sites so that they don’t put young people at risk; Or you could argue that it is the sites responsibility to know what they are doing and to police it themselves and this is where I stand on this matter. I seriously don’t really care who owns the site, I don’t even care that the business they created is worth about 2.3 billion dollars, part of me even commends them for seeing a gap in the market and just going for it. However, I certainly have an issue with them doing so with young individuals who may not fully understand or be aware of what they are risking.
It seems though that Valve is really unhappy with the situation. Just last week there was a reported story stating that Valve were beginning to send cease and desist letters to these websites. I see that there may be several angles to this.
We all know that Valve is a multi-billion dollar company, we also know that they do give Indie developers a platform where they can get to a huge audience very quickly. We also know that they take a rather sizeable cut of the profit. So it’s possible that the fact that these websites are making a vast amount of money means that Valve may take umbrage at this and decided to act. It’s also possible that Valve has recognised that there is a risk to young people on these sites and are doing something about it. Really only Valve know why they are acting on it now rather than previously.
In the end, we here at GeekOut can only encourage you to treat all websites that involve some sort of gambling or sweepstake system with some degree of caution. As a sound piece of advice, if something looks too good to be true then it probably is. It’s easy to get involved in gambling and very easy to lose and keep losing. Have a good read of the GambleAware website and if you are concerned about anyone who may be caught in the throws of gambling addiction then I would advise you to give the National Gambling Helpline a call on 0808 8020 133.
How do you feel about the actions of the two YouTube creators? Do you have an opinion on why Valve are beginning to shut down these sites? We are always interested in your opinion and as per usual you can get hold of us via Reddit, Twitter and FaceBook