The way in which Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s Market Succeeds

Counter-Strike’s weapon skins are as numerous as they are glamorous. The utmost effective in tactical fashion, they’re bright, they’re weird, they’re occasionally very expensive. Some of us don’t care for them, but additional do. They’ve been an extraordinary success, so much so the rarest knives sell for more compared to Steam wallet’s cap of $500, and betting and trading sites are springing up all over the web.

I’m gonna be straight with you now; I really like the weapon skins. I wish I didn’t – I’ve spent more cash than I’d like on stupid digital keys for stupid digital boxes. Some people know the CSGO economy and play it well. They make money on rare knives, withhold crates until they’re discontinued and spike in price… they know what they’re doing, basically. Me? I’m not some of those people. I recently want a very pink, very ‘80s-disco’style Karambit Fade so I will look cool. Or rather, so I can see right now I look cool.

Counter-Strike’s cosmetic economy is an intriguing thing. Yesterday, I opened an instance and it dropped a knife. My first thought was that I could trade it down with my old knife and get an improvement. I’m always wanting to get something better, something rarer.

Some time back I saw an excellent talk by Bronwen Grimes csgo trade sites, a complex artist at Valve. Inside it, she discusses how the small CSGO team implemented them economy with weapon skins. She spoke thorough about how exactly players value items and what Valve learned through the process. The very first half is mostly a complex dissection of how they made the skins but the second half is about player value and the way the economy’s shaped itself. It even details what they considered for customisation before weapon skins.

For instance, the team looked at player model customisation, entirely new weapons and cosmetic mesh changes for existing weapons (so, to be able to reshape the gun barrel, or the grip or the butt, etc.). They eliminated each of these. In Dota 2, you can always see your hero, so having a customisable character model is practical – you’re able to appreciate it. But also for Counter-Strike, only other players get to view your character and the team found that a lot of changes to the models caused confusion. There were visibility problems and team-identification problems. The more skins were made, the more severe the problem would get. Entirely new weapons would cause major balance issues and push veteran CS players far from the format that they loved. And though the team got quite far with the weapon mesh changes, they realised that the silhouettes became confusing and hard to identify. Weapon skins, however, seemed promising.

We all know now which weapon skins sell for astronomical prices and which don’t. We have a tendency to like the same items, those that are flashy and colourful, and thus we drive the prices of those cosmetics up. But that’s not what Valve initially predicted.

Initially, Grimes’team labored on recreating hydrographic camouflages because they’re easier than you think to complete as a beginner skin, and they imagined the CSGO community would value realistic-looking weapons more than, well, tacky-looking ones. I don’t utilize the word ‘tacky’to be mean – I’m the proud owner of a Blood in the Water scout, so y’know. Tacky, in this context, works. And that’s what Valve realised.

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