Steven R. October 29, 2019
The latest Counter-Strike: Global Offensive update is going to shake up the game’s economy in a big way.
The latest patch is restricting players’ ability to trade and resell keys. Crate keys have functionally worked as a form of currency across the entire Steam marketplace, serving as the most liquid asset available on the platform. According to Valve, this fact hasn’t been lost on scammers and other ne'er do wells who trade them en masse.
“In the past, most key trades we observed were between legitimate customers. However, worldwide fraud networks have recently shifted to using CS:GO keys to liquidate their gains,” Valve said on the official CSGO blog. “At this point, nearly all key purchases that end up being traded or sold on the marketplace are believed to be fraud-sourced. As a result we have decided that newly purchased keys will not be tradable or marketable.”
This change will not impact keys that were purchased the update, which went live on October 28. Keys will still cost the same amount when purchased from the in-game shop, and will still function as normal. Players will still be able to sell and trade the items they unbox.
Valve acknowledges that this is likely to have an adverse impact on a number of legitimate users who want to trade keys with friends or resell them on the community marketplace for fun, but evidently sees no alternative but to shut down key trading entirely.
The impact on traders of all sorts will likely be profound. This is likely going to drive up the cost of tradable keys, shaking the economy over time in a way that will likely see their place in the marketplace shift.
This isn’t the first time Valve has made moves to remove keys from one of its games. Dota 2 previously had Treasure Key items that functioned in the same way as CSGO keys, though they were not specific to any one crate. These keys were retired and replaced with treasure chests that do not require a key to open, but carried varying prices.
Team Fortress 2, which introduced the crate key concept in Valve games, still allows players to resell and trade keys.