Head Shots

If you thought CS:GO gambling was bad, wait for PUBG

Bluehole
PUBG screenshot of Buena Fortuna Casino neon sign
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds - How's the loot? As good as anywhere else...

CS:GO skin gambling sites have had several years to get troubling enough with their effectiveness to attract mainstream attention. It is time to kick back and see how much havoc that accumulated experience will wreck once it gets applied to PUBG skin gambling.

Valve urged players not to engage with CS:GO gambling sites a year ago, and the broader public has also become aware of the gambling in gaming situation recently, with governments, campaigners and politicians calling attention to these and similar practices in the mainstream media.

PUBG CorpA lake in PlayerUnknown's BattlegroundsPlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

Gambling with video game items, and CS:GO skins in particular, is now deep within shady territory, and legislators are still pondering whether the issue is worth examining further. While legislators vacillate, the gambling oriented entrepreneurs of the video game industry are becoming more and more adept at what they do.

Developers and publishers provide normalisation by introducing lots of RNG into their games, that RNG is then also applied to skins, and even more RNG is dumped on potential customers once they get the chance to gamble actual hard currency on those same skins. You need to be both blind and blindfolded not to see where this is going.

There is little malice in any part of that chain implied with the statement, it is a natural seeming progression of events that people have found a way to capitalise on. The system is in place, CS:GO skin gambling is profitable for providers of the service, time to put the same well oiled machinery to work on PUBG.

BlueholePlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds - CosmeticsPlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds - Three miniskirts on red

So, as a public service, AltChar has muddied its boots in the swamp of PUBG gambling sites. Here's what we found:

A lot of the PUBG skin gambling sites Google spat out for us already had identical predecessors. The old sites were mirror images of the new ones, save for the CS:GO theme. PUBGEmpire is distinct in the way that it has a different colour scheme for its CS:GO counterpart. Their competitors have often put in less effort.

Most sites we stumbled through had an incredibly simple UI. If you know how to use a computer, it is more likely you will get lost in an elevator than have a hard time betting your skins. Everything is neat and organised, including Steam integration which is also where age verification happens. If computer literacy was ever a barrier between a player and his desire to gamble away at some skins, then gambling site proprietors have made that a non-issue.

More than one of the sites is oddly reminiscent of a Discord server window. Similar to the way terrestrial casinos have their methods of nudging customers towards just one more time distorting pull of the lever, so do the digital gamer targeted ones by maintaining an inconspicuous appearance when switching windows. Lots of small tricks and most of them quite seamless. PUBGbets stands out in this regard, but where it falls in with the lot is its apparent point of origin.

North of half of the sites we checked had their official listing somewhere in Panama, with the remainder located in equally beneficial spots if one wanted to start a serious international gambling enterprise. Or happens to already run one.

ValveCS:GO Italy three chickens screenshotCS:GO - Wrong chicken? Same dinner

There is now a mechanism in place that allows for a skin gambling industry to crop up around almost any game in a short period of time. This won't stay contained on Steam for long. With esport viewership counts growing for games like LoL or CS:GO, gambling's relationship with video games can only diversify over time. PUBG, as close to technically broken as it is, has esport ambitions as well. It also has the audience necessary to strong-arm itself into a relevant position if need be. All in one chicken dinner.

If it wasn't clear by the mere nature of some competitive games that a crowd of spectators wiling to make a wager would gather rather quickly, then now there is more than enough scrambling for a piece of the pie than ever on display to remove any remaining shred of confusion.

These kind of things tend to attract the attention of legislators quite reliably, but for some reason there isn't enough momentum on display to launch a deeper inquiry into the budding practice of gambling with one's allowance and virtual shiny things. Probably money, it's usually money.

BlueholePUBG character parachuting into the mapPlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

The people behind PUBG, as well as gambling sites, have made the best of the situation and will continue to do so with PUBG. Lawmakers and other interested parties are the ones forced to play catch-up. PUBG offers a chance for a unique look at how gaming's future intertwines with gambling, on a massive scale, and will get only more chaotic once those unpredictable Chinese factor into the situation.

It's all bound to blow up in some unlucky 12 year-old's face soon, and this dubious trend will most likely continue unhindered until it does.