In what appears to be bizarre effort to avoid oversight for its loot boxes, the developers of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive have added a controversial new feature. The new feature is exclusive to France, where lawmakers are currently evaluating new regulations regarding loot boxes and gambling in video games. The feature, in an extremely limited fashion, allows players to look inside of a loot box prior to spending money to unlock it. And Valve clearly believes it will help CS:GO avoid additional scrutiny.
Here's how the full feature technically works. In CS:GO, players are able to either earn loot boxes through gameplay or buy them from other players. However, these loot boxes can only be opened by paying for a key. The new feature is called the X-Ray Scanner and allows players to place one loot box into it to reveal the item inside. However, and here's the trick, once an item has been scanned by the X-Ray Scanner, players will have "claim" the item buy purchasing a key to unlock it before being able to look inside another loot box.
As if that isn't frustrating enough, Valve has apparently "preloaded" the X-Ray Scanner with an item already. Meaning that players will have to purchase this item, regardless of whether they want it, in order to use the X-Ray Scanner on a loot box. The X-Ray Scanner may appear to be beneficial to players, but ultimately is just another effort at encouraging players to begin purchasing microtransactions. There's little reason to believe it's significantly beneficial overall.
In order to further contain CS:GO's French marketplace, perhaps to avoid market manipulation through the use of X-Ray Scanners, Valve is making one additional change. Loot boxes can no longer be purchased from the Steam Community Market in France. All CS:GO players in the country will have to earn their own loot boxes. Though, naturally, Valve will still allow those players to sell their loot boxes to those in other countries.
It's currently unclear why Valve moved forward with these changes in France, in particular. So far France has not enacted any new regulations to account for loot boxes in video games, though French courts did recently rule that Steam has to allow users to resell their digital games. In 2018, the French online gambling regulatory body even assessed that loot boxes were not gambling under the country's current regulation. Perhaps Valve is using France as a testing bed or perhaps the decision is intended to shift discourse within the country or Europe. Either way, Valve certainly appears to be taking steps to protect the profits it receives from loot boxes amid the growing international controversy.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is available now on PC.