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Valve has disrupted the gaming economy with the introduction of virtual items, known as CS:GO skins, which are priced at incredible real-world money valuation.
In this article we will explore more about the Economy of CSGO Skins.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) has come a long way since its groundbreaking “Arms Deal” update in 2013, introducing a whole realm of innovative features that has taken the gaming ecosystem by storm. Today, many first-person shooter games such as Call of Duty, Valorant and even Battle-Royale games like PUBG and Fortnite, have emulated the success of CSGO’s popular weapon skins economy.
For those who are unaware, CSGO’s market is actually a subcategory of the larger Steam Community Market, an official Steam market for its range of games that allow the trade of virtual skins, cards, and other in-game items. CSGO market is by far the biggest subcategory both in terms of number of items and revenue generated. For instance, the largest transaction of a single virtual item was from the renowned trade of Souvenir AWP Dragon Lore which is a version signed by Skadoodle, part of the Counter-Strike team that won the 2018’s ELeague Boston Major. And it was sold to a fan for a whopping amount of $61,000.
The Steam Market is catered for players who are solely looking for a platform where they could trade their CSGO skins in exchange for their ideal skins with other players, or to sell them at a value which would be stored as virtual funds in their Steam Wallet for future purchases of other CSGO skins, keys or other CSGO items. Although in recent years, there are many reputable third-party CSGO skins trade platforms such as SkinCashier, which allows the player to sell their rare CSGO skins instantly for real money, or cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH). Steam Market remains as the go-to platform for players who do not intend to cashout for real money and are building their Steam Wallet’s funds in order to upgrade their CSGO inventory.
The vibrant economy of CSGO skins
The primary factor that CSGO Skins have such an appeal within the CSGO ecosystem is likely attributed to the safe and measurable platform for item trade, which could be used for financial gain (through third-party CSGO skins markets) or as a trade token to further expand the pleasure and gain that come with playing CSGO.
Thanks to the CSGO skins grading model, there are now a lot of CSGO skins in demand that can fetch a pretty decent amount of real money. Apart from the different grades associated with CSGO skins, each skin is virtually distinctive of one another, as every CSGO skin from the same series differ by how the pattern covered the weapon. Therefore, apart from the wide collection of CSGO skins design, each CSGO skins are labelled with an ID that distinguishes their specific pattern from another. Many have compared the CSGO skins market to be similar to a traditional stock market, where the demand and supply of each CSGO skin dictates the price, thereby affecting the price of the CSGO skin daily.
However, it is worth noting that the most elusive and rarest (most often, the most expensive) CSGO skins would not be dealt within the CSGO market. Instead, CSGO skins trade are performed beyond the Steam Market, through reputable third-party CSGO skins market like SkinCashier.
The CSGO skins economy has also reached a stage where the worn out CSGO skins do bear a valuable price, since some CSGO skins aged so well that the worn-out pattern attracts a group of CSGO skins collectors, who have set out to gather Battle-Scarred CSGO skins that have float values close to the maximum value (<1.00). It is safe to say that this phenomena has given a second chance for highly used CSGO skins a shot at becoming an expensive CSGO skin, if not more expensive than their pristine Factory-New counterparts.
The aforementioned have disproved many beliefs on the impact of the popularity and financial gains of tradable CSGO skins through playing the game. It was once initially thought that the ability to buy and sell CSGO skins, is just a peripheral add-on to the game. However, time has revealed to the community that the different variety and rarity levels put these CSGO skins in a whole hierarchy of real money value. In addition to that, players can purchase keys to unlock dropped cases for CSGO skins, which would likely generate an extra profit for the publisher (ie. Steam). As a result, the creation of the CSGO skins economy is mutually beneficial to players and the publisher, making CSGO a game that is worthwhile to play. Not forgetting the extension of the CSGO economy via third-party CSGO skins marketplaces like SkinCashier that saw a way to capitalise on providing a safe and secure platform for players to sell CSGO skins for instant cashout, something which Steam could not. These are all bricks and segments that have built up to be a matured CSGO skins economy we are witnessing today.
Why does it matter to every CSGO player?
Truth be told, there is still an existential group of CSGO players who are not financial masterminds and are not intending to capitalise on their gameplay in CSGO. But, understanding the CSGO skins economy is important as we will, at some point, look to sort out our Steam inventory and exchange unwanted CSGO skins for other CSGO skins that we desire. In this case, it is still important to keep up-to-date with the CSGO skins trade and the value of these items so that we are more prepared to plan how much or little we sell certain CSGO skins for a higher-tiered CSGO skin. Apart from that, acquiring the knowledge of the CSGO skins economy could also prevent us from being scammed into giving away CSGO skins which could have some value all along.
How can we determine the real money value of CSGO skins?
As we do know by now, the fundamental of the CSGO skins economy is derived from CSGO skins themselves. There are several parameters which we could explore as CSGO skins are diversified in terms of rarity, wear and other additional specifications. These factors can influence the price and their demand within the economy.
There are those which truly depend on numbers more than anything else and form a basis of determining a CSGO skin’s worth. The general rule of thumb is that, the less often a CSGO skin drops, the more valuable it will become. The drop rate matters to the market volume of CSGO skins. And not forgetting the float value, as the lower the CSGO skin float is, the higher is the quality of the skin, which in turn drives the valuation higher. Lastly, as mentioned in earlier paragraphs, each CSGO skin has a visually similar variant which will also influence its value.
This is the very reason that knives and gloves’ CSGO skins, which barely ever drop, are the most sought-after CSGO skins, and consequently the value. StatTrak CSGO skins, which could display the killcount of the player with the weapon, are also automatically perceived as more valuable. Thus, we do not see a StatTrak version of a weapon costing less than its regular version.
On top of that, the popularity of the weapon to which the CSGO skin is assigned, or the aesthetic comprehensive opinion can sometimes overturn the float value expectations as well, making “undesirable” items more appreciated by players. In recent years, CSGO skins with stickers are also greatly favored by buyers or collectors of CSGO skins, since stickers are also categorised into the rarity of drop, although some of them are not that desirable due to other factors which we will discuss in the next article.
If it ever cross your mind on pursuing the viable option of a CSGO skins trade, then you may need to further your technical knowledge on other aspects that might influence the CSGO skins economy, wherein you may have to develop some skills in calculations and delve deeper with the mechanics of each website that you are concerned with and try to learn the dynamics of commodity markets. It requires more time outside of the gameplay, but upon mastering the different techniques used to decipher the possible value of CSGO skins, it may be well worth the time for avid CSGO skins traders.
Building a Sustainable Economy in CSGO
Computer video games were once viewed as a casual pastime activity which was not favored by parents and the older generations. Even Valve did not anticipate the success of the CSGO game economy. But after decades of development in the gaming industry, it is proven time and time again that it can establish a highly lucrative and viable option for avid gamers. With the esports scene gaining worldwide attention and traction, as well as the successful economic model of the CSGO skins market, one can be assured that it is not an isolated bubble that has no solid grounds today. The CSGO skins market has proven to the larger game ecosystem with solid examples of virtual item marketplaces with their strongest traits. This article has brought forth an overview of the booming CSGO skins economy that could serve average CSGO players with opportunities not found in most online games today. We now know the approach on how CSGO skins were valued and factors that drive the costs of these virtual items.