Faced with a barrage of criticism and legal action, video game maker Valve is seeking to walk away from the rapidly expanding gambling ecosystem that had evolved around its games, in the process likely destroying an industry that was expected to take $7.4 billion in bets this year.
According to the Bellevue, Washington-based company, it would crack down on websites that used Steam, Valve's gaming software, to facilitate gambling, a reversal from its previous support of those sites.
''We'd like to clarify that we have no business relationships with any of these sites,'' said Erik Johnson, a company spokesman, in a statement. ''We are going to start sending notices to these sites requesting they cease operations through Steam.''
In April, a Bloomberg investigation raised questions about Valve's relationship with the sites, which were especially popular among underage gamers. ''This is long overdue,'' said video game attorney Ryan Morrison of Morrison & Lee LLP. ''I'm very tired of getting e-mails saying, 'I'm 15 and lost a thousand dollars on a Counter-Strike gambling website,' Bloomberg reported.
For about five years, Valve had encouraged players of games like Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive to collect virtual items like decorative weapons, which could be acquired through game-play or purchased through Steam.
Valve, speaking out on the subject revealed its intention to shut down these types of sites.
"In 2011, we added a feature to Steam that enabled users to trade in-game items as a way to make it easier for people to get the items they wanted in games featuring in-game economies," Valve's Erik Johnson explained in a statement shared with www.gamespot.com.
"Since then a number of gambling sites started leveraging the Steam trading system, and there's been some false assumptions about our involvement with these sites."
"We'd like to clarify that we have no business relationships with any of these sites," Johnson said. "We have never received any revenue from them. And Steam does not have a system for turning in-game items into real world currency," he said, directly conflicting a statement in the lawsuit that said this was possible.