Counter-Strike’s weapon skins are as numerous since they are glamorous. The utmost effective in tactical fashion, they’re bright, they’re weird, they’re occasionally very expensive. Some people don’t look after them, but a lot more do. They’ve been an exceptional success, so much so your rarest knives sell for more than the Steam wallet’s cap of $500, and betting and trading sites are springing up all around the web.
I’m gonna be straight with at this point you; I love the weapon skins. I wish I didn’t – I’ve spent more income than I’d like on stupid digital keys for stupid digital boxes. Some people know the CSGO economy and play it well. They earn money on rare knives, withhold crates until they’re discontinued and spike in price… they know very well what they’re doing, basically. Me? I’m not one of those people. I recently want a very pink, very ‘80s-disco’style Karambit Fade so I will look cool. Or rather, so I would ever guess I look cool.
Counter-Strike’s cosmetic economy is an intriguing thing. A week ago, I opened a case and it dropped a knife. My first thought was that I possibly could trade it down with my old knife and get an improvement. I’m always wanting to have something better, something rarer.
A little while back I saw a fantastic talk by Bronwen Grimes, a technical artist at Valve. In it, she discusses how the tiny CSGO team implemented that economy with weapon skins trade csgo skins. She spoke thorough about how precisely players value items and what Valve learned throughout the process. The very first half is mostly a technical dissection of how they made the skins but the 2nd half is approximately player value and how a economy’s shaped itself. It even details what they considered for customisation before weapon skins.
Like, 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 ruled out every one of these. In Dota 2, you are able to always see your hero, so having a customisable character model is sensible – you can appreciate it. However for Counter-Strike, only other players get to see your character and the team unearthed that lots of changes to the models caused confusion. There have been visibility problems and team-identification problems. The more skins were made, the more severe the situation would get. Entirely new weapons would cause major balance issues and push veteran CS players from the format that they loved. And although 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 know now which weapon skins sell for astronomical prices and which don’t. We tend to like exactly the same items, the ones that are flashy and colourful, and thus we drive the prices of those cosmetics up. But that’s not what Valve initially predicted.
At first, Grimes’team labored on recreating hydrographic camouflages because they’re fairly easy to do 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.