The aftermath of the new Counter-Strike trading rules

It has been just over a week since the new trading rules for CS:GO were implemented. People are not happy and concurrent players counts continue to plummet.

On the 30th of March, Valve made the decision to apply a trade restriction on CS:GO items. Detailed in an announcement, Valve explained that this restriction would be the same as the cool down placed on items purchased from the Steam Market. Once traded, an item will not be available for trade for a seven day period. This restriction applies to all accounts regardless of whether or not a mobile authenticator is attached. The aim of this change was to tackle scammers that have been an ever present problem in the game. A cool down would prevent bots, third parties services and other would be scammers from moving the items on quickly.

For most casual players of Counter-Strike, trading may be something you haven’t delved into. Be it for multiple reasons, most players don’t constantly trade their in game items. For those who do invest in the skins market, you might buy or trade up to a skin you like so you can use it in game. But most of the time, that is where it stays. You got that skin because you liked it and will continue to use it until something you like better comes along.

M4A1-S Decimator skin, available as an in game item for CS:GO
M4A1-S Decimator skin, available as an in game item for CS:GO. Source: Kinguin.net

So what’s the problem?

Surely this would be a good thing wouldn’t it? Being unable to hide the evidence of a scammed item would deter scammers right? Yes, in theory the restriction would help those who get caught by these fraudsters. However, that is not all it would do. The public outcry over the trade restrictions comes from the avid and experienced traders who realise how this would affect what they do.

The step up from casual players are those more experiences traders, who trade to make a profit. The fun is all in the trading for these players, rather than possibly the game itself. Active traders believe that the new rules will do more harm than good. A Twitter post from streamer ‘roflm0nster’ details an email to Valve’s Feedback Team, explaining that removing the liquidity of items will ruin the experience for traders.

On top of this, a petition that was created at the time of the changes on change.org has nearly reached it’s goal. As of writing, it has received over 135,000 signatures out of the 150,000 goal. The petition aims to convince Valve to revert back to the old trading rules before it ‘destroys trading interactions as a whole’.

Has there actually been an effect?

Since these changes the concurrent player counts for CS:GO have dropped to it’s lowest level since 2015. The image below shows the large drop off between now and the announcement. The lowest point of that drop is now level with the massive dip in players counts in July 2015. There have been drop offs before and Counter-Strike has recovered from them. Like other games and markets it is still possible for these counts to recover. If rules are reverted or players start coming back to the game they love regardless, it can happen.

All time CSGO player counts
All time CSGO player counts. Source: steamcharts.com

Popular YouTuber ‘Anomaly’ along with what I’m sure was many other players, have cashed out their inventories. Fears of their value plummeting was the main motivation behind these drastic actions. Unfortunately, everyone selling at once can cause a market to crash, where others will lose out. Even now, we aren’t seeing any CS:GO skins on the front page of the market, just a lonely Clutch Case. Third party sites such as OPSkins are now also limited by these restrictions. Items traded to the site will not be available for seven days as they will still be in the bot’s inventory. Other sites including CSOffer.me and Kinguin.net have temporarily shut down their operations because of the update. With third party sites now possibly out of the way, this could be Valve’s plan to push players back towards using the Steam Market again.

If you wish to voice your concerns to Valve you can email them at [email protected]