Emanuel Sandhu

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Ways Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s Country’s economy Gets results

Counter-Strike’s weapon skins are as numerous because 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 extraordinary success, so much so the rarest knives sell for more compared to the 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. Many 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 can look cool. Or rather, so I would ever guess I look cool.

Counter-Strike’s cosmetic economy is an interesting thing. Yesterday, I opened a case and it dropped a knife. My first thought was that I could trade it up 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, a specialized artist at Valve. In it, she discusses how the small CSGO team implemented that economy with trade rust skins weapon skins. She spoke in depth about how precisely players value items and what Valve learned through the process. The very first half is certainly caused by a specialized dissection of how they made the skins but the second half is all about player value and how a economy’s shaped itself. It even details what they considered for customisation before weapon skins.

As an example, the team looked at player model customisation, entirely new weapons and cosmetic mesh changes for existing weapons (so, being 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 for Counter-Strike, only other players get to see 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 away 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 realize now which weapon skins sell for astronomical prices and which don’t. We tend to like the same items, those that are flashy and colourful, and thus we drive the values 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 complete as a beginning 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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