Valve isn't just the company behind Steam - the world's most biggest PC game digital distribution service. It's also the maker of hits such as Half-Life 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). And it seems that the latter has got the company in a spot of bother.
The popular competitive multiplayer shooter is central to Valve being sued. Reason being, playing CS:GO nets you skins - cosmetic items for the game's many guns. These can be traded outside the game for cash. Something a few Indian sites have been doing to their advantage what with a mushrooming cottage industry focused around using sales of CS:GO items to fuel cheaper game prices.
However it appears that the value of these digital goods haven't been restricted to this according to a report by Polygon. A lawsuit filed on behalf of Connecticut resident Michael John McLeod alleges that Valve and third-party sites (CSGO Diamonds, CSGO Lounge and OPSkins) which allow "knowingly allowed, supported, and/or sponsored illegal gambling by allowing millions of Americans to link their individual Steam accounts to third- party websites." The aforementioned websites, the suit says, skins for CS:GO, which can be purchased from Valve, "can ... easily be traded and used as collateral for bets."
"Valve owns the league, sells the casino chips, and receives a piece of the casino's income stream through foreign websites in order to maintain the charade that Valve is not promoting and profiting from online gambling, like a modern-day Captain Renault from Casablanca," the suit alleges.
McLeod says he purchased CS:GO skins to gamble, both as a minor and an adult, and lost money. He's seeking unspecified damages, and his lawyers are gearing up for a class-action lawsuit, which could be extremely expensive for Valve.
We won't be surprised if the outcome could see Valve limit trading of CS:GO items within the game itself.