4 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Skins With Fascinating Stories
…and Even Crazier Prices!
We all enjoy a good story. It’s fun, right?
But a good story is something more than that. It can turn something trivial into a symbol. It can change our perception and influence our choices.
That’s why storytelling is such a powerful tool, especially in sales and marketing. A good story gives context to potentially disconnected elements — it connects the dots and your brain loves it. Listening to a story that we resonate with results in a wave of oxytocin (the “feel-good” hormone that plays a big role is stuff like social bonding) which in turn can have a big impact on our economic decisions.
Now, why do we talk about storytelling in the first place?
A story with a price tag
Among the hundreds of skins in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive there are naturally some cheaper and some more expensive skins. Usually, the rarer the skin, the more expensive it will get. Other factors include the wear & tear distribution, the weapon they are for, or the stickers applied to them. You can read about it in detail in our skin pricing and evaluation article.
However, there’s one thing that separates skins that are simply rare and expensive from the absolute legends. Every iconic skin in CS:GO has a backstory.
Now, stay awhile and listen…
The Howl Incident
Back in 2014, the Steam Workshop was on the rise. Valve’s idea of monetizing self-expression bore fruits in the form of both financial and artistic success. This caused an influx of artists of different skill levels uploading their skin designs looking for fame and monetary gain. After all, the most popular skins had a chance to be added to the game as a part of the next community collection. Authors would receive a percentage from every transaction which their skins were the object of. If you had the luck to land a very popular yet quite expensive skin, you’d be set for some time.
Two such skin artists, Auzzii and sic, have uploaded a skin for M4A4 and a sticker called the Howling Dawn that was supposedly inspired by the artist’s dog. In a very short time, M4A4 | Howl got over 4500 upvotes on the Steam Workshop which meant that it became popular enough to be introduced into the game as a part of Huntsman Collection. M4A4 | Howl received the highest Covert grade. The artists got their designs into the game and started receiving hefty sums, players got an amazing skin for a popular CT-side weapon, and Valve had a happy user base. The artists got the commission, players got their skin, and Valve had a satisfied customer base.
Everyone was happy. Well, everyone except CanisAlbus.
As it soon unfolded, he was the original artist behind the artwork submitted by Auzzii and sic as the centerpiece of Howl’s design. Informed about the plagiarised design, he filled a DMCA takedown notice. Valve responded by removing M4A4 | Howl form the cases — it couldn’t be dropped anymore.
However, the problematic part was that there were already a number of Howls dropped by players before the takedown. Valve understood that these skins couldn’t just be removed from player’s inventories. Howl has been redesigned by the Valve team to avoid plagiarism leaving it with a very similar, yet different imagery and giving it a Conrabant rarity — currently the highest rarity grade.
Overnight, the M4A4 | Howl has jumped from around $20 to almost $200. Considering that no new Howls can be dropped in-game as well as the amazing story behind each Howl, it’s nothing weird that M4A4 | Howl in good wear can easily reach thousands of dollars.
Earlier this year an M4A4 | Howl with a set of extremely rare stickers was sold for around $100,000 making it the biggest transaction for one skin in the skin trading history.
The Legend of the Dragon
It’s time to talk a bit about CS:GO poster boy — AWP | Dragon Lore. Although you can still find new pieces making their way onto the market, the rarity of the Dragon Lore is nothing to scoff at.
AWP | Dragon Lore comes as a part of The Cobblestone Collection introduced in July 2014. So, what’s the problem? Well, to get it you’ll have to either drop it after a mission or get it from the case that can be only achieved as a souvenir drop. That means you have to actively watch a Major game played on the Cobblestone map to have a chance to receive a souvenir pack. Up to 2% of all people watching the game will end up receiving one.
From this, you’ll have to open this very rare and expensive souvenir pack to have a remote chance to get a Dragon Lore which is of Covert grade (extremely rare). That’s why even a Battle-Scarred high-float Dragon Lore can easily reach a $1500 mark.
Having said that, there are people that have probably burn their entire life’s luck in one drop. The legendary AWP | Dragon Lore, or to be more precise a Souvenir AWP | Dragon Lore (Factory New), was for a long time the highest official transaction in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Sold in January 2018 after the ELEAGUE Boston Major 2018 tournament for over $61,000. It has been stapled with a signature sticker of Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham, who had become an MVP of that Major tournament. The skin itself was dropped during the previous PGL Major in Krakow, but the hype surrounding the player’s performance combined with the rarest of the rare created an ultimate weapon skin.
However, this particular Dragon Lore was much more than just a rare weapon. It was proof of the power of esports as well as game-related digital goods. It’s no longer about “silly digital drawings” from “games”. It’s a unique trophy for a fan of a legitimate sport.
The Pattern Hunt
Certain skins for CS:GO weapons and knives aren’t just textures for weapon models. Some of them have particular aspects that can change from piece to piece. Therefore two skins of the same float can look differently. This is called a patter and AK-47 | Case Hardened is one of such skins.
There’s a wide range of patterns for this carbon printed steel finish that’s displayed on the weapon’s body, magazine, and barrel. The Case Hardened texture is composed of blue, yellow, and (sometimes) purple stains. What the skins collectors are looking for is the correct percentage in the ratio of blue to yellow. A rare pattern is worth much more than a random mixture of blue and yellow stains.
Some rather rare and recognizable patterns are easily distinguishable by veteran traders and have names of their own. Blue Gem is a Case Hardened finish with most of the surface covered in blue. The more visible the blue is the higher the price. Other coveted patterns are The Scar, in which the blue stain is separated in the middle by a silver line, Gold, a counter to Blue Gem or Galaxy in which the yellow background is filled with scattered purple stains.
How much a pattern may be worth? According to some sources, the most expensive AK-47 | Case Hardened ever sold was a Factory New with the lowest possible float and pattern number. Allegedly it was sold for $25,000 to a Chinese anonymous collector.
Other finishes that include patterns (thus, pattern hunts) are Crimson Web, Fades, or the Doppler knife finishes.
The Matter of Scope
A skin that beautifully combines rarity, old school vibe, and esport influence is without a doubt AWP | Asiimov. This futuristic design made as a homage to a science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov was introduced in 2014 as a Workshop Submission. It quickly became one of the favorite skins for the entire community.
Moreover, the popularity of Asiimov may be directly related to Kenny “kennyS” Schrub who was one of the best and most exciting esports awpers in the early days of CS:GO. It is also a testament to the self-expression. Usually, the lower the float (clean, fresh texture) the higher the price. Well, usually is not always.
The Asiimov’s design is overall futuristic and white, with orange and black elements, but as the float value rises, more and more of the gun’s black body starts to crawl from underneath the design. At some point — a float value of 0.96 or higher to be exact — the entire scope becomes black. And people liked it. A lot.
Blackiimovs, as they are popularly called, are more sought-for then any other wear level. Being on the edge of the gauss bell they are one of the rarest drops. Moreover, who doesn’t like a good plot twist? The teared-down and worn skin becoming the top of the food-chain against all odds is a satisfying story.
Everyone has their own story
The skins and stories behind them we’ve covered today are some of the most well-known and universal. However, skins, being a way for gamers to express themselves online, are sure to hold many more stories behind them. Maybe not as big, and not as interesting or flashy, but surely much more personal.