Valve Bans Trading From CS:GO and DOTA 2 in Response to Loot Box Controversy

Dutch Players Are Now Stuck With Their Inventories

Valve has officially disabled trading features for Dutch players in its popular online games, Counter: Strike: Global Offensive and DOTA 2. The move was in compliance to the Netherlands Gaming Authority (Kansspelautoriteit), who, a few months ago, gave the company until mid-June to abide by the Dutch Betting and Gaming Act.

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Last year, the controversy surrounding the implementation of loot boxes in Star Wars: Battlefront II convinced several lawmakers to take a closer look at monetization schemes in video games. The Netherlands Gaming Authority reviewed ten games, four of which they found in violation of their gaming laws. While the names of those games were not mentioned, it’s clear now that two of the four violators were none other than DOTA 2 and CS:GO. Left with no other viable recourse in the Netherlands, Valve has chosen to remove trading features from the aforementioned titles.

Back when Kansspelautoriteit published their verdict on loot boxes, they deemed microtransactions with RNG to be illegal if the random drops could be sold for real-world currency (in a nutshell). Therefore, Dutch players on Steam will now be greeted by a pop-up message that communicates the reasons behind Valve’s trade banishment:

“In May, we received two letters from the Dutch Kansspelautoriteit, stating that Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2 contain ‘loot boxes’ that violate the Dutch Betting and Gaming Act. The Kansspelautoriteit accusation is different from how other countries think about loot boxes, so we hired Dutch legal counsel, looked at the recent Study into Loot Boxes published by the Kansspelautoriteit, and learned more about Dutch law. We still don’t understand or agree with the Kansspelautoriteit’s legal conclusion, and we’ve responded to explain more about CS:GO and Dota 2.

“In the meantime, we have a threat from the Kansspelautoriteit to prosecute Valve if we don’t implement a remedy by June 20. The letters don’t tell us how to do that, but the Study into Loot Boxes does contain one rather simplistic statement:

“‘Loot boxes contravene the law if the in-game goods from the loot boxes are transferable. Loot boxes do not contravene the law if the in-game goods from the loot boxes are not transferable.’

“So for now our only practical alternative is to disable trading and Steam Marketplace transfers for CS:GO and Dota 2 items for Dutch customers. We apologize to you for this inconvenience. We hope that, after more engagement with the Kansspelautoriteit, they may refine their legal demands and we can find a solution that is less inconvenient.”

Thanks to the suspension, Steam users who attempt to trade with Dutch CS:GO players will now be greeted by the following message: “This trade cannot be completed because transferring Counter-Strike: Global Offensive items is disabled in other user’s country.” It is odd that Valve decided to make this information available at the tail end of June, but it may be that the company was weighing all options until the bitter end. Judging by their message to players, they’re suspending trading as a temporary measure. Time will tell where the Dutch Gaming Authority’s decision ultimately leads.

SOURCE: Polygon