June 13, 2021

Tons Of Hun Studios

Unity Game Development, Devlogs

Benefits of CSGO’s Skin Economy

4 min read

Counter Strike Global Offensive is arguably one of the hottest games out there right now, with millions of active players and a very large e-sports scene. In the FPS category, it is currently unmatched, even overtaking games like Call of Duty. However, CSGO has not gotten the best reception from its players in all aspects. People often complain about Valve’s focus on new skins and cases. These are the virtual cosmetic weapon skins of the game, from bright pink AK47’s to Five-Seven’s covered with bananas. The weapon skin economy in CSGO has had many ups and downs, from those who have made thousands off them to the major gambling scandal. I myself have even made a few hundred dollars off of trading these skins. My point that I’m going to drive here is that the CSGO skins and their marketplace are actually a very good thing for the game itself. Sure, most active players would probably rather want more refined mechanics and better framerates, but in the long term the CSGO weapons skins keep the game alive and thriving.


“Microtransactions” that aren’t really microtransactions


Microtransactions are a bittersweet thing. It’s an easy way for developers to get people playing their game in the first place and also eventually get paid. But players don’t like being locked out of content by a paywall or losing to Pay to Win players. People want to pay a good price for all the games content and be at the same level of all the other players. By this definition, CSGO skins are not microtransactions. They are simply cosmetic items, that do not benefit players in any way other than bragging rights. You can become the best player in CSGO, only having spent the initial cost of the game. Still, people continue to complain about the skins and their high price tags. What I feel like some people forget is that CSGO is a full-fledged content-filled game, only for $15. I picked it up a couple years ago on sale for $4, and I have played over 1000 hours. The game could easily go for $60, and that still might be underpriced. Valve decided instead to keep the entry price low and appeal to the hardcore fans with the pricey skins. Nothing says that you need to buy them. However, for people who play often, it’s a lot more appealing to look at a beautiful vibrant AWP Dragon Lore than a plain green gun.


You can make money off of the skins themselves


Going off the microtransactions again, for most games these purchases are not refundable, and can only fully be worth it if you continue to play the game. CSGO has done a beautiful thing to not only enable refunds of the skins, but also created a global marketplace where users can profit off them. Steam has its own virtual economy, similar to the stock market. Skins, knives, and stickers have low and high values, that increase and decrease with trends, quantities, and rarities. If you buy a $10 skin off of the marketplace, you can sell that skin back on the market for steam wallet funds. Granted, if you buy a $10 skin, at the same price you will only get about $9 back because of the steam tax, but if you play the market right you can actually make a profit. A famous example is the M4 Howl skin. One of the first rare skins of the game was the M4 Howl, a beautiful and expensive weapon. After being in the game a while and being purchased or opened by some players, it was made no longer obtainable because of copyright issues with the skin’s design. That meant that people could no longer get the skin, but the people who had the M4 Howl previously get to keep it. This spiked the price up tremendously because it was now a rare contraband skin. Those lucky few who managed to get their hands on the Howl were elated, having their skin’s value spike up, yielding a massive profit. What I’m trying to show here is that the in-game purchases for CSGO are not static. You can actually get your money back, and potentially more. In my eyes, it’s more renting than buying.


Counter Strike Global Offensive has gotten some flak for its skins economy when in reality it’s not all that bad. It makes it possible for the developers to get paid in a more pleasing way to the players and allows the buyers to potentially make a return on their investment. I don’t think arguments against paid skins, sprays, etc. will ever stop, but I want to let others know that it’s really not bad.


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