News broke on June 20 that Dutch gamers would no longer be able to trade CS:GO or Dota skins via the Steam marketplace; this action was made by Valve in response to the Dutch Gaming Authority ruling which deemed loot boxes as a form of gambling.
Back in April, the Dutch Gaming Authority announced they would examine a handful of popular games that were possibly infringing upon Dutch gambling laws; the report indicated giving developers a deadline of June 20 to revise these in-game features to meet legal requirements or face a penalty in the form of a fine or banning the games entirely. In the Dutch Gaming Authority study, they stated: “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,” the report says. “Offering these types of games of chance to Dutch consumers without a license is prohibited.”. We recently defined loot boxes more clearly here, if you’re unsure of its gambling proximity.
Valve appeared transparent in the condition they came to be in today, their statement – copied and posted above – indicated a sense of puzzlement on how to resolve this issue. The story has just started to unravel, and the legal friction ahead is likely to be rocky as the ruling will insert a radical hitch in the side of Valve’s economy.
The Dutch aren’t the first to take notice of the abrasiveness within loot boxes legality either; Asia, for example, advanced the issue differently, announcing companies must disclose the odds of items that could be gathered from loot boxes. The Belgian Gaming Commission went on to deem loot boxes illegal with a more inelastic approach to the matter, citing shrill consequences for publishers such as “a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to 800,000 euros“
The news is right on course with the deadline asserted by the group, and given Valve was afforded roughly eight weeks of notice, we’re unsure as to why they decided to go public with this information on the day it came into effect. Regardless of whether this fell on Valve or the Dutch Gaming Authority to bring to attention, the revelation has already incited some uproar among the Dutch gaming community. Without warning, the skin inventory of these gamers has essentially lost all monetary value – and while a heads up could have provided an opportunity to pawn these items off, they’re now simply just cosmetics until further notice.
Esports Insider says: While the disabling of trading skins for Dutch gamers seems firm, we anticipate Valve will attempt to find some sort of middle ground with the Dutch Gaming Authority. Bearing in mind the weight of this ruling and its implications on Valve’s economy, a large legal quarrel seems imminent.