In 2011 Steam added a feature for all games supported by the platform to allow trade of in-game items. While Steam does not have a system for turning those items into actual money third-party websites have begun to pop up to do just that which open opportunities open for skin and lootbox gambling. Despite the lack of regulation, skin gambling is projected to generate $50b (£35.3b) by 2022. These websites use the OpenID API for Steam as a way for users to prove ownership of their Steam accounts and items. Using that API to run a gambling business is not allowed by Steam’s API or user agreement. To further combat fraud and the misuse of Steam accounts, Valve also applied a seven-day hold of CS:GO trades back in March of this year.
On June 6th OPSkins launched ExpressTrade, a trading service for users to quickly trade items back and forth for free. This instant service violates Valve’s Subscriber Agreement terms and use of Valve’s intellectual property. While the service isn’t directly gambling, users can essentially use its service to trade skins after gambling, then turn those items into real-world money. In Valve’s statement, the company has notified OPSkins of the violation and ordered the website to “cease use of all intellectual property including trademarks, gun models and images from the game CS:GO in OPSkins ExpressTrade and any promotions for OPSkins in any media.” Valve will also be disabling any Steam accounts associated with trade by June 21st.
In a response, OPSkins informed it’s users of the notice along with advising them to withdraw their Steam-based items from OPSkins to avoid issues with their account. The statement also argues that the reasoning for the shutdown from Valve is to drive skin sales to the Steam Community Market instead of third-party platforms. The Steam Market Community is virtually unregulated, while Steam makes money from transaction fees after every use. The statement assures users their money is safe on OPSkins while it will begin integrating 19 blockchain-based games and services such as token games that will mimic the trading experience of popular games while avoiding trading restrictions.
Esports Insider says: In-game skin trading has been an attractive feature for CS:GO, players, since it’s introduction but as it opens up the market for unregulated trading and gambling Valve has to enforce strict rules along with cease and desist orders just like this. Some may think this is actually harmful to the CS:GO and Steam communities but as the environment is heavily unregulated Valve has no choice.