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Initially published on Medium — January 19, 2016
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) was released in the August of 2012, and immediately met resistance and concerns. Many gamers thought it wasn’t an improvement over previous iterations, and didn’t upgrade to the new version.
The launch of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive was widely regarded as a “flop.” In fact, it took a full year (August of 2013) before the average number of people playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive surpassed the other Counter-Strike titles.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive was growing at a very slow rate relative to it’s predecessors. Many gamers just simply wrote Counter-Strike: Global Offensive off. For months, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive struggled to break 20,000 daily players. However, the developers did not give up. Instead, they continued to iterate and ship updates.
In August of 2013, Valve shipped one of the most important game updates ever made: The Arms Deal.
This update created an item economy comprised of weapon skins. Weapon skins are camouflages and designs for your weapons.
Shortly after shipping the update, the average number of people playing Counter Strike: Global Offensive grew at an unprecedented rate. The average number of people playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in December, 2015 (377,447) was an incredible 26 times greater than it was three years ago in December of 2012(14,079).
Ever since introducing The Arms Deal in August of 2013, the average number of players, viewership, and prize purses have all grown rapidly.
First off, let me make it clear that weapon skins are a luxury good. They have absolutely no impact on gameplay at all. You read that correctly…one of the most important game updates ever made, had zero impact on gameplay.
The decision to make weapon skins have no impact on gameplay, sent a clear signal that Valve understands their consumers. Given the fact that Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is extremely competitive, introducing any aspect of pay-to-win would have likely destroyed the game and community.
There are several skins that are worth more than $5,000, despite the fact that skins do not affect gameplay.