Counter-Strike: Skin Betting - Ultimate Double Edged Sword?
A couple of weeks ago I reported on the influences of change that resulted in the mass shuffle among North America's strongest - and weakest players. In the wake of the changes came a lot of confusion, disparity, rage and even distrust to those who were affected.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has grown drastically over the years since its release, seeing a sky rocket in player base and affiliation with the eSports industry. More and more businesses' are realizing the potential profit whether it may be off the players, the production, sponsors and so forth. The seemingly most profitable still lays within the fundamental feature that helped turn Valve' published CS:GO succeed -- skins.
Re-textured guns allow the game to change the classic shooter without touching the core mechanics, reinvigorating the title to new heights in popularity. Filled with constant additions of skins made by the community, shows that there are slim chances of it slowing down in pace. However with these skins came the profit that I mentioned earlier, but not all has been cash profit for organizations.
Sites like csgolounge.com (hereinafter referred to as "CSGL") allows users to deposit and bet skins on matches with the winners splitting the wins using an algorithm and returned with profit, CSGL taking a percentage. Winning skins based off educated guesses, sounds great right? Conceptual, sounds amazing but the results are terrifying and the affects it has are even greater.
Having your match posted on CSGL means more viewers. It has come under heavy fire from eSports veterans, business owners and personalities -- who aren't affected for their unethical and ill-morale business practice. Eric "lpkane" Thunberg, co-owner of E-Sports Entertainment LLC (ESEA) has openly commented on his interaction with CSGL. Pictured below is a statement taken from ESEA forums regarding matches not being posted on CSGL.
(eSports veteran, Scott "SirScoots" Smith has questioned the legality and morale issues of underage and unregulated betting on CSGL numerous times.)
As courageous as that act of standing up for whats right is, that isn't always the best choice. For productions that hold a hefty cost the main way of gaining profit back are by ads, which require viewers, which aren't always there -- especially if one of the main ways matches are recognized are by being posted on CSGL. There's a choice, don't get posted on CSGL and watch your viewer base plummet or have a partnership with full on branding, pre-rolls and so forth, many choose the latter.
We can only assume until confirmation is given, but it's something I won't hold my breathe on. It's a mere shakedown, a shakedown from a site that encourages betting on skins. Now you've seen and heard the reality of how sites like this affect the business side, lets talk about the players and teams that are posted on CSGL.
I asked players off the record what they felt about CSGL, some love the idea, some utterly despise the idea. They hate the pressure it puts on them to win or face the backlash of "fans" for losing. It takes its toll, being haggled by bettors to win and save their precious skins.
One of the most common skin betting related incidents is of the infamous ex- iBuy Power match fixing scandal, for the very same skins that many place on their favorite teams -- or the ones with the lowest (underdog) percentage to win for better payouts. The earnings are tempting for all and it's turned CS:GO into nothing but a betting sport.
It's damaged the integrity of businesses', the organizations, the players and the fans while helping it grow into a mainstream title, one of the very little faces that make it to the top of Twitch and maybe television soon enough. The lesser of evils. How can we solve the issues that plague CS:GO? Regulation? Complete abolishment of betting and allowing the true nature of eSports to take over?
As eSports continues to grow, CS:GO being a title that is the epitome of classic competitive, it surely will need to change something if it ever wants to see the touch of interaction with major television corporations and affiliations that require professionalism, commitment and no loose ends that make occur with these partnerships. Now CSGL is simply one example of how skins are used. There are sites that allow users to use skins as currency in poker and other games with little to no regulation. First step to admit that there's a problem, is by acknowledging that there actually is one.. Scary thought.