Valve has now updated their Online Code of Conduct to ban gambling on Steam.
The line is added under the conduct rules, as follows:
“Engage in commercial activity
Examples of such prohibited behavior include: posting advertisements; running contests; gambling; buying or selling Steam accounts; selling content, gift cards, or other items; and begging.”
As reported by Insider Gaming, this is the culmination of a growing issue on the platform, involving a franchise Valve itself makes and owns, Counter-Strike.
In 2013, Valve introduced skins and cosmetics for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. They did not actually add gambling to the game itself. Instead, an entire black market emerged for those cosmetics, entirely out of Valve’s control and completely against the company’s wishes.
In 2016, Valve started suing the different illicit marketplaces and storefront owners that offered gambling for these Counter-Strike: Global Offensive skins and cosmetics. Interestingly enough, Valve has recently finished winning their last such case.
That seems to have been the reason that Valve has finally put down the banhammer that they clearly wanted to put onto gambling from a long time ago. The whole practice was not profitable for them, and it stained their game’s and company’s reputation. It is also consistent with Valve not approving video games with real life gambling onto Steam.
It does also conveniently match up to the now upcoming release of Counter-Strike 2. A month ago, we had reported on datamining revealing entirely new skins that are in development for Counter-Strike 2.
We had speculated at the time that Valve might not support skins made for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive from carrying over to Counter-Strike 2.
While this news does not rule out the possibility that that could happen in the future, Valve is clearly incentivized to drop that support.
Even if their players complain, it’s clear to Valve that the black market, many of their sellers and resellers, and especially many of the customers and gamblers, have all their skins tied up to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. It’s quite plain that a completely fresh start would make it much simpler and easier for Valve to enforce their gambling ban on Counter-Strike 2.
In the worst case scenario, Valve could drop the servers for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tomorrow, but that might be too harsh, penalizing the players who also had nothing to do with gambling or the black market.
Valve’s most likely course of action would be to allow Counter-Strike: Global Offensive to stay available on Steam, but to push Counter-Strike 2. Eventually, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive will stop receiving updates. Those players who bought their skins and cosmetics will still technically own them, but in what would amount to a dead game, with few or no players on the servers.
Valve could also drop their own servers so that the few real hardcore Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players will have to host their matches themselves. It’s the fate that all online games face eventually, and Valve probably can’t wait for the day when they make Counter-Strike: Global Offensive obsolete.