The video game Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) has become one of the most popular esports games in history, seeing millions of monthly players continue to log in years after its release. One of the contributing factors to this game’s continued success is something called “skins”. The skins in CS:GO change the cosmetic appearance of weapons the player uses in the game, like firearms and knives. Although some skins may act as a camouflage in certain game environments, for the most part the skins do not give players additional benefits during gameplay. Valve, the company responsible for the game, has issued a hierarchical system of classifying the rarity of skins players receive from in game actions. These skins can then be traded, sold, or purchased on Valve’s online marketplace.
The classification for skin rarity and thus value is extremely important to players and determines just how valuable the skins they randomly receive are. The grading for skin rarity, going from most common to most rare, is Consumer Grade, Industrial Grade, Mil-Spec, Restricted, Classified, Covert, and Gold. While that list can help players determine how rare their skin is, another ranking system will determine the quality of the skin itself. The freshness of the skin on the player’s weapon is rated from most worn out to fresh by the following: battle-scared, well-worn, field-tested, minimal wear and factory new. Yet another classification exists for the skins in CS:GO which each skin being marked as Normal, StatTrak, or Souvenir. A normal skin has no additional function for the player, while a StatTrak Skin will track the number of kills a player makes with the skin selected for a given weapon. The stats for the player will be erased if the skin is traded or sold to another player. A Souvenir Skin will be from a specific e-tournament, and is considered especially rare.
All in all, the skins available in CS:GO have created a substantial marketplace of cosmetic items that have no direct impact on the game itself, yet attract almost as much attention to themselves as the actual game. Interestingly enough, the act of collecting and trading skins as a currency has arisen, even to the extent that certain players will bet skins on CS:GO tournaments a la poker chips at a casino or horse racing bets. Although Valve has implemented the skins as another way to profit from CS:GO’s popularity, the second-hand evolution of the CS:GO skin marketplace can more directly be credited to the player base itself.