Valve has disabled trading for Dutch CS:GO and Dota 2 players, thanks to a lawsuit from gambling authorities and a controversy a year in the making.
The context: The Netherlands was one of multiple countries to investigate lootboxes in the last year. In case you don’t remember, the whole thing began when Warner Bros crowbarred lootboxes into its single-player game Middle Earth: Shadow of War last year. It reached a fever pitch when Star Wars: Battlefront II debuted its frankly insulting lootbox system (and were torn apart for it by an exasperated audience), which is about the time gambling authorities started to sit up and take notice.
The mandate of the Dutch Kansspelautoriteit, or Gaming Authority, is very particular. A study it published earlier this year of ten different lootbox economies found four to be in violation of its Better Gaming Act. According to its press release from April:
The reason is that the content of these loot boxes is determined by chance and that the prizes to be won can be traded outside of the game: the prizes have a market value. Offering this type of game of chance to Dutch players without a licence is prohibited.
So Valve can no longer allow players to trade or sell their items. To that end, the marketplaces for CS:GO and Dota 2 were shut down.
What happens now: As much as I understand the authorities’ (and Valve’s) position in this, it sucks that the people most affected at the moment are the players. According to GamesIndustryBiz, Dutch players who log into either of the games are met with this explanation:
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… So for now our only practical alternative is to disable trading and Steam Marketplace transfers for CO:GO and DOTA 2 items for Dutch customers. We apologize to you for this inconvenience.
The Kansspelautoriteit didn’t reveal the names of the two other games in which it says violated its laws. Rumor has it at least one of them was FIFA 18.
Despite Valve’s insistence that it’s going to try and convince the authorities otherwise, it appears Dutch players who wish to trade are just going to have to lump it for now.