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When Valve introduced skins to Counter Strike Global Offensive through its “Arms Deals” update in 2013, it has been widely known to disrupt the gaming industry with one of the most lucrative virtual item markets in the world. This year, M4A4 Howl has broken another record.
Because of how massive the CSGO economy is today, it is not uncommon to see some of these weapon skins sold for a hefty price tag. To put it into better perspective, the official Steam Market has processed millions of dollars worth of CSGO skins transactions on a daily basis. This figure does not include the sales in other reputable third-party CSGO marketplaces such as SkinCashier. According to a 2018 report it was estimated that the entire CSGO skins industry is worth an incredible $50 Billion, and it is expected to continue its growth relative to the increasing number of CSGO players worldwide. And truth be told, Steam has registered its all-time record of more than 20 million CSGO players playing the game within a 24-hour time span in March this year.
The previous record of the priciest CSGO skin sold was an autographed Souvenir AWP Dragon Lore by the 2018 Boston Major’s MVP Skadoodle. It had fetched a valuation of $61,000 after it was sold to a CSGO skins collector. But it was not before long that the astonishing record was broken by another CSGO skin’s transaction this year. And that CSGO skin in question, is a StatTrak M4A4 Howl Factory New.
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M4A4 Howl with iBUYPOWER Katowice 2014 stickers
The controversial backstory of the original M4A4 Howl has created a huge demand over the discontinued CSGO skin design. The original M4A4 Howl has seen incredible price valuation in CSGO skin marketplaces over the past six years as collectors flocked to these platforms to buy the remaining contraband CSGO skins available in the market.
This is not to say that all M4A4 Howl skins available today will be worth as much as the original CSGO skin. It is worth noting that only M4A4 Howl with the original design will command a higher price point in CSGO skins marketplaces like SkinCashier. That said, you may be in for a ride if you do possess another original M4A4 Howl Factory New with iBUYPOWER Katowice 2014 stickers as the wild world of Chinese CSGO skin trading could be a whole other story in of itself.
It was not until recently that M4A4 Howl has gained a renewed interest within the community, as an original M4A4 Howl Factory New with iBUYPOWER stickers from Katowice 2014 have appealed to CSGO skins collectors from all over the world. The rarity of this Counter Strike Global Offensive skin is likely attributed to the sticker and the limited quantity of the original M4A4 Howl in the market, hence making it one of the hottest collector items on the market.
According to a July 2020 Twitter post by CSGO economist ohnePixel, a Chinese CSGO skins collector paid $130,000 for the ultra-rare StatTrak M4A4 Howl Factory New (0.003 float rating) with four iBUYPOWER Katowice 2014 stickers on it, setting a brand new record skin price in the CSGO history. On the contrary, the price for a Factory New (0.009136963 float rating) StatTrak M4A4 Howl Factory New (without IBP stickers) is estimated to be valued at $5,180, which pales in comparison with the former.
The transaction of this controversial weapon skin has proven once again that CSGO skins is an virtual asset class which cannot be ignored by the gaming industry.
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The Infamous Story of M4A4 Howl
The Howl should be a familiar Counter Strike Global Offensive skin among active CSGO players in the community. It is a contraband CSGO skin that became an overnight sensation after a news scandal revolving around the legitimacy of the design in 2014. It was the same year that the CSGO market saw an exponential growth and popularity among the CSGO community, whereas players can customise their weapons with cosmetic upgrades in the form of various CSGO skins.
Many designers have since utilised the CSGO Workshop as a way to promote their artworks, either for fame or real money rewards. And this is where the Howl design was born.
In 2014, two self-proclaimed designers Auzzii and SiC, uploaded a CSGO skin and sticker design to the workshop. The “Howling Dawn” design later received more than 4,500 positive ratings within the community, making it the finalist design of the workshop. Auzzii has described in his entry submission that his artwork is an interesting illustration of his dog, as it was the complete opposite to a wolf, thereby portraying his pet in the design as a fiery wolf.
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M4A4 Howl was included in the Huntsman collection
The “Howling Dawn” design was eventually picked as the new M4A4 skin by the Counter Strike Global Offensive team and has included the M4A4 Howl in the Huntsman collection, and the only way players can obtain this CSGO skin is through case openings. At the same time, Auzzii and SiC both received their monetary rewards as a result of that winning entry.
While it may appear initially that the design submission seemed to be a relatively easy process for the two “artists”, as they received real money rewards for a design that was not exactly theirs, but the CSGO community loved the M4A4 Howl anyway. Unfortunately, their rewards for that winning entry were short-lived, as the original artist who made the design for the M4A4 Howl soon discovered the fraud.
A DeviantArt user CanisAlbus was tipped off by online sources that his artwork was stolen by Auzzii and SiC, who went on to claim his design as theirs and submitted his artwork in a contest in CSGO. Angered with what had happened, he took legal action for the copyright infringement of his artwork, hoping for the design to be removed on Counter Strike Global Offensive.
Valve received a takedown notice from Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and consequently, the Howl and five other Counter Strike Global Offensive skins that SiC had worked on were taken out from the Huntsman collection. Eventually, the M4A4 Howl CSGO skin became a contraband item and those who did not own this skin would not have the chance to obtain the original version again, as Valve released a new version of the M4A4 Howl as a replacement to the original design.
As a result, M4A4 Howl with the original design was regarded as limited edition CSGO skins. Surprisingly, Valve did not seek the surrender of any of these original design CSGO skins and those who owned these skins can safely possess this controversial Counter Strike Global Offensive skin in their inventory.
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Lesson learnt from this $100,000 CSGO skin
If there is any takeaway from this incredible CSGO skin purchase made recently in July this year, it is a reminder to anyone who owns reasonably valuable CSGO skins and stickers to keep these items in the Steam inventory. Knowing the exceptional sales record set by AWP Dragon Lore and M4A4 Howl, we can be sure that in the near future more record-breaking Counter Strike Global Offensive skins will be unearthed by collectors.
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Another point to note is that these transactions could also influence the CSGO skins market in a positive way. In fact, the CSGO community seems to maintain a rather robust market for buying and selling CSGO weapon skins. It is almost certain that anyone with rare CSGO skins are able to sell at a profit these days, as more people are intrigued into getting rare skins for collection or investment purposes. Either way, it is a win-win situation for CSGO skins buyers and sellers, and the entire CSGO ecosystem could benefit from the striving market of CSGO skins trade.
M4A4 Howl FAQ
Currently the only way to get an M4A4 Howl is to buy it from other players or third party marketplaces.
The M4A4 Howl had it’s design changed and rarity moved to Contraband after it was found out that the skins creator stole it original artwork.
The M4A4 Howl is not found in any case. Back when it was possible to get it, it was part of the Hunstman Case Collection.
The M4A4 Howl is the only Contraband skin in the game after Valve changed it’s rarity following a Copyright issue with the skin creator.
M4A4 Howl was removed after the original artwork owner submitted a DMCA claim against Valve for stealing his design.
The M4A4 Howl is one of the Most Expensive CSGO Skins because it’s currently the only Contraband skin in game.
M4A4 Howl Prices for 2021 – Well-Worn: $1365, Field-Tested: $2280, Minimal Wear: $2905, Factory New: $4217.