Another gaming-related controversy shines light on nefarious activities

Posted July 5th, 2016 at 10:15 am

A huge controversy has arisen in the gaming world and the ramifications of how it all plays out could eventually impact the sports gaming genre. Two of the biggest Youtubers out there have been caught in a web of lies and deception after heavily promoting a “skin” gambling site for the game Counter Strike: Global Offensive that they failed to mention they actually owned. Not only were minors permitted to bet on the site but it’s possible they manipulated the results for streams in which they promoted the website.

Legally it’s required that disclosures are made whenever there is a relationship that could influence the content or opinions being shared. There’s a lot that can fall under that but the most common would probably be when a product is provided for free, when someone is paid for creating content in which they promote a product for a company (essentially making it an advertisement), or in this case having a financial stake in whatever is being promoted.

Thankfully the Ultimate Team type modes in sports gaming don’t extend outside of the games themselves. There is no trading or selling of items that would lead to literal gambling – though it could be argued pack openings are lotteries in themselves. Companies like EA Sports have tried to crack down on those who attempt to profit outside of the boundaries that have been set in place. However when money is involved there’s always going to be people looking to take advantage, and companies attempting to generate more revenue through new means, so there’s a lesson to be learned here about what these modes have to actively avoid in the future.

But it’s not just about the structure in place within the games. It’s also the relationship between companies and Youtube personalities who have often operated outside the rules that most influencers and journalists have long adhered to. There’s a lot of scummy stuff that goes on behind the scenes even with the sports games, relating to payments for positive videos and things like gifted pack openings. Disclosures are more often than not nowhere to be found.

In the case of the CS:GO issue there’s a lot going on from underage gambling to potential fraud, with FTC fines and jail time potentially on the table. The good thing out of all this being exposed is that scrutiny on the games that offer up digital items which have real-world value and personalities who deceive their viewers for their own gain will now be under much more scrutiny. As we saw just last week with FIFA Ultimate Team having a flaw that affected the performance of high-value cards, some sort of regulation or oversight appears to be necessary. With hundreds of millions of dollars on the line revenue-generating digital content in games may become the next daily fantasy sports in that regard.