Counter Strike: Global Offensive is one of the most popular first-person shooter games in the world. The flagship tournaments have guaranteed prize pools of millions of dollars and this latest installment in the series is the true star of the eSports industry. Highly competitive, it attracts players from all over the world and has made Valve one of the most profitable developers of video games.
A $2.3 Billion Business
The company is mired in a scandal of epic proportions, with a lawsuit that could be very costly: Valve was sued by a CS:GO player for accepting and even supporting a legal online gambling ring. The weapon skins trading in Steam, its digital distribution platform, is at the cornerstone of this scandal, as these transactions are very similar to real money gambling.
The revelations following the lawsuit took CS: GO players by surprise. Bloomberg indicates the fact that this is a huge $2.3 billion industry, one that Valve has allegedly profited from. By taking 10% of all the transactions made through its Steam Marketplace, the company has made a lot of money. Apparently, the industry is very much alive and weapon skins trading in Steam continues unabated.
The Sensitive Issue of Underage Gambling
What makes this case so interesting and potentially damaging for Valve is that most of the Counter Strike Global Offensive players are young people. Many of them are younger than 18 years old, therefore they wouldn’t be allowed to gamble online even in countries where this practice is permitted. The plaintiff said that he has purchased many skins for gambling purposes, both as an adult and as a minor.
If the lawsuit is elevated to a class-action case and Valve loses in court, the company could pay a hefty price. Then again, it is still unclear whether this will escalate or if the case will be dismissed.