Counter Strike firearms skins, at $12,000 a day

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Probably one of the biggest mistakes you can make in this day and age, is to underestimate the potential of a gamer, or coder for that matter. Some smart guys in Montreal have put their gaming caps on, and hhave created a website called OPskins, that sells virtual skins for various weapons in the PC game Counter-Strike. You might ask, what is the big deal? And I might tell you, one of their knife skins sold for over $5,000, these two guys are bringing in over $12,000 a day at times, and over 370,000 CS gamers have purchased from them. In fact, for an upcoming CS gaming convention in Montreal, the company is investing over $100,000 for the event, to give back to the community. However this is my favorite part of the article, that one of the guys is still living in his parents basement… I’m sorry… But the money and the basement isn’t computing very well with me, unless his parents are charging him rent!

The men say they started their venture because players were getting scammed selling their virtual weapons online outside of the Steam Community Market, the hugely popular marketplace owned by Counter-Strike’s developer Valve.

“People used to sell their guns directly on forums”, said Minacov. “The buyer would pay via Paypal, but afterwards, would chargeback as soon as he got his item. So people who sold the weapon were getting scammed. The community wasn’t happy about it, so we tried to find a solution.”

The reason some users have attempted to sell items outside of Valve’s official marketplace is simple: When a user sells an item through Valve’s marketplace, they can only use the proceeds to buy other weapon skins, or new games on Steam, said Minacov, who runs the company from his parent’s basement.

“With us, people cash out the money they are getting from each sale. Some can make a lot of money out of it,” he explained.

I also wouldn’t underestimate the interest in firearms when it comes to gaming. I’m sure many of the millennials reading this blog, to include myself, were first exposed to a wide variety of firearms via the video games we grew up playing, to include Counter-Strike, the Medal of Honor series, and the Battlefields. I mean, to use myself as an example, I started constructing the firearms in Counter-Strike, and then Medal of Honor Allied Assault from pieces of plastic cardboard and duct tape because I couldn’t have access to the “real steel”. I later graduated to airsoft, which then lead to pellet guns, and eventually when I turned 18, I bought my first .22 rifle. Almost two dozen firearms later, and I can’t rid the bug. But I would be kidding myself if I were to say that those first person shooters didn’t play a part in cultivating the interest.



Miles V

Former Infantry Marine, and currently studying at Indiana University. I’ve written for Small Arms Review and Small Arms Defense Journal, and have had a teenie tiny photo that appeared in GQ. Specifically, I’m very interested in small arms history, development, and Military/LE usage within the Middle East, and Central Asia.

If you want to reach out, let me know about an error I’ve made, something I can add to the post, or just talk guns and how much Grunts love naps, hit me up at miles@tfb.tv


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  • Nicks87

    Wow, of all the ways someone could piss money away, this might just take the cake. 2K for a 9mm Wilson AR doesn’t sound so bad now, at least you would be getting something that exists in the real world and not just in a virtual one.

    • Scott P

      You do realize that people play this game outside of ‘Murica, right?

      They don’t have access to certain guns or none at all so this is the closest they will ever get to owning and firing guns that we take for granted here.

      Not saying I agree or like it but it does have merit for people who like guns but their only exposure to them will only be in the virtual world.

      • AD

        Very true.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    The single most annoying trend in games is the necessity to pay real money in order to gain access to weapons/skins/character mods.

    • drambus ambiguous

      Yeah. Paying for pixels that will be obsolete in a few years because nobody plays it and the new version of the game came out.

      I’m the last person to deride someone for spending money on something they really like. It’s their money. However, this comes off almost like a drug addiction than a hobby, or anything else for that matter.

      Disconcerting for sure.

    • nadnerbus

      I stopped playing Call of Duty a while back, but that was because it started to suck badly, well before they started trying to scam more money out of you after you paid sixty bucks for the damn game.

      I’m too old to understand the deal with skins. Back in the day when you just unlocked cammos, I never bothered putting any of them on the guns. Who gives a toss what the gun looks like in a video game?

    • Mrdakka

      It’s because it’s extremely lucrative for game developers; low effort high yield microtransactions are the way of the future as more games ditch traditional expansion pack dlcs for microtransactions. Hell the entire mobile gaming industry is built around this concept.

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        Well, it sucks.

        • Major Tom

          It does. Not only does it lock players out of content. It’s often used to lock content that should’ve shipped with the original game.

          Case in point the most recent Star Wars Battlefront game. Bare bones content and they had the gall to suggest loads of (paid!) DLC over that of shipping a good base game first.

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            True, have they added any new maps to Battlefront lately? Ive been playing Black Ops 3.

          • mosinman

            EA is at the forefront of trying to squeeze every last cent for a half-assed game

    • Phil Hsueh

      It’s not that bad depending on the game, I’ve played 2 free games so far that have content that you can buy with real money but they haven’t affected the gameplay any. One is an MMORPG called Tera and most of the real cash items are purely superficial like costumes for your characters which doesn’t affect gameplay at all. The other game is World of Warships and you can play just fine without paying a single cent of real money, you just have to be content with a few things like only being able to have 8 ships max that you can play, but that just means that you have to sell ships you don’t want to make room for others. So not all DLC is necessarily bad.

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        The only games I play are Modern Warfare and the new Star Wars. Both have items that can only be purchased which is annoying as hell considering the game cost.Its still fun I just dont get all the “cool” stuff.

    • kzrkp

      it’s voluntary, doesn’t alter gameplay, and makes cheap games viable.
      the worse would be cellphone game micropayment and pay2win bullshit.
      i play Dota 2 and it’s amazing that playing dressup funds a game of that size.

    • Madcap_Magician

      Disagree. The single most annoying trend in games is the necessity to pay real money in order to gain access to things that you actually need to be competitive in or to finish the game… that you already paid for.

  • BattleshipGrey

    Just wait til the legislators get a hold of this one. They’ll either want to ban it or get their cut.

    • hking

      They already are looking into it. There are sites you can bet on ranked matches using your inventory, which translates to real $$$ goods being wagered. There have been instances of match fixing going on where people are losing/winning 6 digits worth of virtual goods on rigged matches, so it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if they try to step in and regulate it.

      • Out of the Blue

        For the Counter-Strike weapon skins, the only thing Valve sets the price for is the keys to unlock crates, at $2.49 a piece. Some unique items are tied to crate types, but the contents are not guaranteed. The prices for these are set by the players selling them, who usually set their prices based on what people are willing to pay for it, with Valve taking a small percentage as a facilitator’s fee. I don’t see how the regulators are going to touch the weapon skin market in whatever they choose to do without getting REALLY draconian. The mobile games are going to get hit the hardest if any legislation is pursued, since PC gamers tend to harbor an animosity towards any game that lets someone buy a clear advantage, so the player base evaporates, followed by the people inclined to spend large quantities getting bored. Of course, if EVE Online hasn’t ditched that $74 monocole they started selling a while back they’re going to get hit as well.

  • Edeco

    Gaming and shooting are of course different things, despite gaming using the theme of guns. One’s not a substitute for tother, a person can do one, both, neither. It’s not like the in-game guns are just effigies of the real thing, they’re important in the game, I guess, apparently… So I’m not saying “OMG, $50 for a picture”. To each theys own.

    But lordy I cant wrap my head around this.

  • Cal S.

    Man, I know Java, too…

    I need to make some sort of app that charges a buck for every character upgrade.

  • guest

    So, people buy skins (aesthetic items). In the “real” gun world people buy overpriced machined monometal bullet ammo, “signature” guns, guns that are marginally better than closest competitors at 2x-10x the price (read: 1911s).

    I don’t see the difference or fuss. I am not to judge people who buy toys for fun.

  • John

    Kimber. Magpul. “AR-15 is Barbie for men”. The entire industry as a whole.

    Cast no stones in a houseboat primarily built of glass, ladies and gentlemen.

    • John

      Oh. And let’s not forget the article underneath this one about Rainier’s AR-15s with a bunch of European flags painted on the side. The “British” gun, the “German” gun, etc.

      Real life pointless skins, everybody.

      • Major Tom

        At least you can re-sell a gun with “pointless skins” on it in reality…

  • Bob

    I don’t get it. Most of the camo and skins available just make the guns look ridiculous, like putting rims on a junk heap of a car. I only remember putting a skin (paid for with virtual ingame money) on a Dragonov because I didn’t like the plastic furniture and wanted it to look like wood…

  • mosinman

    at least you get a real gun… the CS GO skins are just pixels

  • Martin M

    How do you kill that which has no life?

  • Rocky Chen

    i personally believe the NRA should advocate for airsoft, as the next generation of gun owners could be recruited from the existing airsoft player population.

  • Masoo2

    IIRC One knife skin (M9 Bayonet Crimson Web FN) sold for $16,000 or $20,000

  • Southpaw89

    This is almost one of those “I wish I’d thought of that” ideas, except I’m not sure I could feel good about selling a skin for a digital weapon for $55, much less $9000. Especially considering that I just bought enough material from Gunskins to camo a real handgun for $25. I’m not saying that unique guns in games aren’t fun, I’ve downloaded plenty of weapons for Fallout even if they had no real effect on the gameplay, but I would never actually pay for them.

  • Darren Hruska

    This is what happens when a bunch of rich Cheeki Breekis mix Stolichnaya with online gaming…

  • Scott P

    Not everyone in the world has access to real guns (legally at least). Even in places where you can get a gun all you are allowed are Fudd guns (bolt guns, single shot/double barrel shotguns) with the guns portrayed in these games being illegal. This will be the closest they ever get to firing the guns we take for granted in the U.S., Canada, and certain Western European countries (many of the guns in these games are illegal to own in some of these “gun-friendly” places as well).

    Not saying I agree with it but I can see where it has some merit where people pay exorbitant amounts of money. You most likely would too if you loved guns but lived in a place where you couldn’t get real ones that is also culturally and legally against them.

  • Hans Gruber

    AM I the only one waiting for the BIG EMP IN THE SKY??

  • TJbrena

    “the hugely popular marketplace owned by Counter-Strike’s developer Valve”

    Valve hasn’t actually made a game since Half-Life 2: Episode 2. Everything else has just been farmed out to other devs.

    Valve only makes updates for Team Fortress 2 now.

  • Counter Strike sucks anyway

    This is an addiction and pure stupidity, not a hobby. Like drugs, it doesn’t really help a person live, it only delays their death (in this case, it delays some form of success in life).

    The gaming industry is ruined by the microtransaction bulshit. We used to have COMPLETE games, then later a few ADDITIONS to the game where people called Add-ons or DLCs Downloadable content), actual proper DLCs at reasonable prices, where sometimes they were actual different games (example: Medieval 2 Total War), but nowadays we have games released in INCOMPLETE forms and scamming people in a dubbed form as “Early Access”, these games never get finished or have no difference in its final update from the “Early Access” times, then they make people pay for little but essential features in a game, like in a strategy game making people pay to unlock new countries to play with, or in a shooter’s game, making people pay to unlock weapons. These were things in the past where one would have to pass the game or beat a hard special event, achievement meant unlocking new features, but now using your wallet unlocks these features. Then you have things like this in counter strike, where one could actually make his own “skin” and apply to the game, only difference between creating your own skin for this game to buying it is that only you can see it in your screen, other people would see it at it’s default “vanilla” state.

    This buying colours for guns thing just gives a person the option to put rainbows and heart drawings on the guns so people can see how one spends his money.