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Valve bans CS:GO key trading to stop ‘worldwide fraud networks’

Pre-existing keys will remain unaffected, however

Bog standard screenshot of guy with a gun in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Valve
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

Valve will no longer allow Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players to trade container keys. The developer announced the change in a blog post published Monday. CS:GO container keys are now tied to the purchasing account, Valve said, so they can’t be sold on the Steam Community Market or traded with others.

Valve said it’s making this change to curb “worldwide fraud networks” that are using CS:GO keys to “liquidate their gains.”

“At this point, nearly all key purchases that end up being traded or sold on the marketplace are believed to be fraud-sourced,” Value said. “As a result we have decided that newly purchased keys will not be tradeable or marketable.”

“Pre-existing” CS:GO container keys already purchased are unaffected, and can still be sold or traded. Valve said most players won’t be impacted by the key changes. Players on the CS:GO trading subreddit don’t seem concerned either, noting that there are still a lot of tradeable keys available — and other things to trade, too, like Arcanas in Dota 2.

In 2018, Valve made adjustments to trading, implementing a seven-day trade cooldown that put a hold on any transactions as a way to stop third-party services that “use automated Steam accounts to mimic players and make sure of Steam’s trading functionality” for fraud purposes.

All this comes after major controversy in 2016 with CS:GO skins used in gambling schemes on third-party websites. A CS:GO player filed a lawsuit against Valve for its complicity regarding the “illegal online gambling market.” Valve began cracking down on gambling websites, issuing cease-and-desist notices to sites using Steam’s trading system. In October 2016, the Washington State Gambling Commission demanded Valve immediately cease skin trading operations in CS:GO.

A separate lawsuit was filed in April 2019 by Washington’s Quinault Tribal Nation, which accused Valve of “unethical, oppressive, and unscrupulous business conduct” for its role in online gambling.