Valve disables loot boxes trading for CS:GO and Dota 2 Dutch players
The sensitive issue of loot boxes and downloadable content that costs more than the game itself has been the source of heated debate online. EA and Valve were frequently criticized for many of their decisions and eventually these practices caught the eye of the Netherlands Gaming Authority.
The Dutch government decided that restrictions are needed to protect its more vulnerable citizens from the risks of gambling addiction. Valve had no option but to comply with the new regulations and disabled trading. The impact of this decision is for the time being relatively small, as it only applies to Dutch people who play CS:GO and Dota 2. By suspending trading in these two games, the game developers comply with the decisions of the Dutch Kansspelautoriteit.
Meanwhile, players from other countries are not subject to the same regulations and they can keep acquiring new boxes. Having said this, now that the precedent exists, many expect other countries to take similar actions in regard to what they perceive as gambling.
Valve is reluctant to remove loot boxes completely
In their most recent statement communicated through Steam, Valve announced their decision to suspend trading. Meanwhile, they are looking at alternative ways to resume service, while getting a better understanding of the Dutch Betting and Gaming Act.
As far as they are concerned, the regulators have excessive demands, while not providing an alternative path to legalize loot box trading. They pledged to undertake more research until a solution is found.
Dutch players who go on steam and try to trade with Counterstrike Global Offensive or Dota 2 players won’t have any success. This is immensely frustrating for those who have an inventory of in game items that are no longer tradable.
Only a fraction of those who acquire them planned on keeping them, so they are stuck with things they don’t necessarily need. The players did have enough time to prepare for this moment, as the Netherlands Gaming Authority announced its intention to stop trading some time ago.
Mixed reactions from CS: GO and Dota 2 Dutch players
Some players consider the possibility of circumventing the law by using VPNs. Unlike their counterparts from China who are more effectively blocked by the Great Firewall, Dutch players have several ways to get around prohibitive measures. It goes without saying that using a VPN to acquire products and services deemed as gamble, therefore illegal is against the law. The authorities claimed that they are doing this to protect players from the risk of gambling addiction.
The Netherlands Gaming Authority did leave the door open for Valve to change the nature of loot boxes, so they don’t look and feel like gambling. Apparently they failed to implement the necessary measures to exclude vulnerable groups or to prove that the loot boxes are harmless. The authority claims that its actions are aimed at preventing minors from succumbing to the risk of addiction by in-game trading.