Gaming and gambling is a hot issue at the moment, with governments even stepping in to examine the relation between loot boxes and gambling, but a new game on Steam is taking it to an entirely new level. As spotted on Reddit by user TarOfficial, x2Roulette is a game that will effectively allow players to gamble real-world money on a casino-style roulette, then sell the potential winnings on the Steam marketplace for credit.
The trailer on the game's store page pretty much lays it out. x2Roulette players can spend real money via in-game transactions to get "X2P", the game's version of credits. That X2P is then wagered on a simple game of casino-style roulette, resulting in either more credits or a loss. The kicker here is that you can then spend 1000 X2P to create a "1000 X2P Bundle", a Steam Inventory item that can be redeemed in-game for 1000 X2P. Like other items in the Steam Inventory, the bundle can be traded/sold to other players for Steam credit via the platform's marketplace. If you think that sounds suspiciously like gambling, you are not alone.
One needn't look far to see the potential issues here. First, one can make the argument that x2Roulette represents unregulated gambling. Real money goes into the developer's pocket (minus Steam's cut), gets bet on an invisible algorithm that players have no control over, then either disappears into the void or returns multiplied, ready to be converted into sellable digital goods. Even if the odds on winning are as advertised---a big "if" considering the roulette results are determined on the developer's end---the developer actually suffers no risk of loss due to the digital nature of these transactions. Unlike a casino, which must pay you for the chips that you win, x2Roulette does not buy your credits back from you---other players do via the marketplace---meaning that the developer can reap all the benefits of players buying-in without any risk of having to pay-out. That's something even Caesars Palace would be envious of.
The second issue is that the game can also function as an easy avenue for credit card fraud and money laundering. Illegitimately-obtained funds, e.g. those obtained from a stolen credit card, can be spent on X2P bundles and then immediately sold on Steam's Marketplace, no gambling required. The Steam credit obtained from these sales can then be spent on gift purchases on Steam, which are sold for real money on shady websites.
There are a few important things to note here before rebuking Valve for allowing such a game on their platform. The first is that x2Roulette is not officially released yet, therefore it has not run through the full gamut of Valve's review process. Though the game's store page would have to have gone through review by Valve prior to appearing on Steam, it is worth noting that Valve is no stranger to approving games' store pages and then removing them for content reasons prior to their full release. Though Steam's content guidelines do not expressly forbid gambling games, they do forbid "content that violates the laws of any jurisdiction in which it will be available", which x2Roulette potentially would depending on how states and countries choose to define illegal gambling. That being said, Steam is already rife with games the feature loot boxes, card packs, etc. that could arguably be considered a form gambling as well, though few are so transparent about it as x2Roulette.
TechRaptor reached out to Valve about the game and its potential legal complications but did not receive a response before publication. Contact information for the developer, whose only current Steam "game" is 2xRoulette, was nonexistent.
Is gambling for digital goods still gambling? Is it any different from spending money on loot boxes and card packs? Is this the shadiest game you've ever heard of? Add your two cents down below.