A recent update for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive adds a curious new item to player inventories in France. Called the “X-ray Scanner,” it allows players to peek inside loot boxes before opening them. The change appears to be a hedge against the threat of government regulation of loot boxes in that country.
In France only, the X-ray Scanner now allows every player to preview the contents of a single loot box before paying to open it. It’s the equivalent of pulling the handle on a slot machine before you drop a quarter in. Trouble is, if you don’t like how the slot machine is going to pay out you have to throw the entire thing away before you can move on to the next one and pull the handle again.
Here’s the text from the update:
The X-ray Scanner allows users to reveal the item inside any container. [...] Every container must first be placed into the X-ray Scanner to reveal the item inside before purchasing a key. The X-ray Scanner will consume the container and reveal the item inside. To use the X-ray Scanner again, the revealed item must be claimed; it is not possible to scan another Container without claiming the revealed item.
There’s an extra wrinkle, of course. French users can no longer purchase loot boxes from other members of the Steam Community Market, but they can still sell them. The implication is that, even if users manage to figure out a way to exploit the X-ray Scanner’s magical loot-revealing powers, there’s no way to launder high-end items through France inside seemingly-unopened loot boxes.
Time will tell how French players — and lawmakers — react to CS:GO’s new feature.
Valve Software’s flagship competitive first-person shooter has been making headlines for its controversies for years now. The growth of skin trading morphed into a controversy over skin gambling, and then flashed over into accusations of collusion and misrepresentation. While Valve has made changes to stem the tide of skin-related shenanigans, the kerfuffle over loot boxes themselves — the original source of those skins — has expanded to the entire industry. It crossed fire lines in 2017 thanks to consumer outrage over Star Wars Battlefront 2, and has since occupied lawmakers in the United States and around the world.
Regardless of consumer sentiment, loot boxes continue to be included in every modern AAA multiplayer game. It’s up to consumers to judge how a given developer or publisher implements them.