2018 has been a rollercoaster of a year so far for the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive community. The ELEAGUE in Boston brought us some unbelievable gameplay, a touching interview from the MVP, and of course the subsequent $61,052 Dragon Lore sale. But then on March 30th, Valve implemented a new 7-day trade lock on all CS:GO item trades, and it’s had a massive impact on the daily CS:GO player count, the total volume of Steam item trades, and Steam Community Market’s sales.
It was evident from the start that the community didn’t appreciate the 7 Day Trade Lock, with some going so far as to launch a Change.org petition which received more than 150,000 signatures. And it appears that the 7 Day Trade Lock has affected more than just people’s ability to trade quickly, it has affected people’s desire to even play the game.
CS:GO Daily Player Count Change: January to May 2018
A decrease in trading volume was expected, but the steep drop off in players from one of Valve’s biggest titles might come as a surprise.
SteamDB data shows that since the trade lock was implemented, the daily player count has significantly dropped from it’s peak of more than 700,000 in January to less than 375,000 just a few months later:
As the above chart shows, 2018 started off strong with a peak daily player count of 706,921 during the ELEAGUE Boston Major (it’s typical for player counts to spike during a major). Throughout the first quarter of the year, the count of daily players hovered in a healthy range of 520,000 to 700,000 players.
On March 30th, the day that the trade lock went into effect, CS:GO saw 589,158 players. But from there, the game’s player base steadily declined to nearly half of it’s 2018 peak, seeing just 374,213 players on May 9th which is a 48% drop from January 27th.
May 9th also marked the first day since early 2015 that CS:GO has a daily peak of less than 400,000 players.
Steam Trading Transaction Volume: Last 12 Months
Historical data of item trading for all Steam games shows that transaction volume has also dropped off considerably – ranging between 3-4 million daily trades prior to March 30th, and immediately decreasing to around 1.5 million daily trades in the aftermath of the trade lock implementation.
CS:GO Steam Community Market Sales: All Time
Historical data also shows that the total sales for Steam Community Market items have also dropped off drastically, with April 2018 having the lowest CS:GO SCM sales in nearly four years:
Valve’s recent response to the 7 Day Trade Lock Policy
On May 10th, Valve’s John McDonald responded to a tweet saying:
“Support tickets do not agree with you–there has been a 70% decrease in the number of scamming tickets filed.
While we will continue to monitor trade (yes, we see your petition), it is exceedingly unlikely we will revert it.”
As the data shows, while there has been a 70% decrease in Steam support tickets related to scams since the trade lock it has come at a cost of a 48% decrease in daily CS:GO players so far.
There’s no doubt that fewer players getting scammed is a good thing. OPSkins has seen a similar decrease in the number of theft and loss tickets, as evidenced by our internal “Theft and Loss Department” support ticket count chart:
Source: OPSkins Internal
We understand the damage that scams cause to the community, and we have covered the topic over the last three years to warn against it. We certainly agree that scamming is a problem, one that we’ve worked to help correct with our litany of security features that, with all honestly, can be very annoying and cumbersome to our customers but are worth the security they provide.
However, based on the data, it’s evident that fewer people are getting scammed simply because so many fewer players are choosing CS:GO.
With 48% fewer players, trading transaction volume down by half, and SCM sales at a four year low … are trade locks really preventing scams? Or are they simply discouraging gamers from playing CS:GO?