Easy skins, easy life: a chronological case study of loot boxes and transferable cosmetic items in the video game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
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Video game publishers have continually developed novel methods of maximizing revenues from video game titles. Modern gaming customarily involves paid downloadable content that further monetizes a base game. Loot boxes, which are virtual chests that contain cosmetic upgrades unlocked for a small monetary fee, are an example of such a phenomenon. The academic literature surrounding loot boxes and related skin gambling is in its infancy: these items debuted in 2010, and little had been published prior to 2017. This study seeks to add to this body of literature by charting the history of virtual skins and loot boxes in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). Through a chronological exploratory case study, this thesis examines loot box mechanics, match-fixing, and skins gambling in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. This analysis also highlights potentially problematic and unlawful behaviours of actors within this unregulated space and the associated various governmental responses to loot boxes. Valve’s actions and response to the iBUYPOWER match-fixing scandal are analyzed in the context of deterrence theory and stakeholder roles, outlining why their response was ineffective in curtailing future instances of match-fixing.