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Turning Digital Items Into Real Funds

The Ins and outs of user-oriented skin monetization

In the past, we’ve talked about investing, evaluation models, and other such niches considering the generally understood game-related digital goods market, basing our explanations on our expertise of CS:GO’s skins market. However, it’s about time that we cast aside the technicalities and focus on user functionality.

With or without the knowledge of the skin diversity and their market, the awareness of simple methods of turning digital goods into real money is useful to anyone, be it a casual CS:GO player that happened to drop something more interesting than an Industrial Grade weapon skin, or to an avid multi-game collector who found themself in need of spendable cash.

Today we’ll skip the lore and the insight and show the bread and butter of cashing in.

Steam and its Wallet

First, however, a short, foreword on Steam Community Market and the way funds are used with it. In its earlier iterations, Steam only had a software store that was used to purchase new games. This already included the Steam Wallet, which was a converter of digitally transmitted dollars into Steam’s inner currency equated with the dollar’s value.

Now with the Community Market running fully and Steam integrating global currencies into its transfer system, the one-way Steam Wallet charge has become the main dread of those who appreciate the openness of Steam’s item trade, yet feel that a fluid monetary system is lacking.

Steam Wallet funds cannot be paid out once topped up. The funds can be used in both the Steam Store (to buy games and applications) or on the Steam Community Market (to buy game-related digital items). This would probably mean the end of the story, but, we live in a strange and convoluted reality, and it’s not all of it, so…

Let’s take things outside

Third-party websites — at first glance this phrase looks really shady, but it’s just a code word for any websites outside Valve’s network. It includes providers of various peripheral services, including markets and mass deposit stores.

Since Valve made the Steam API available, it’s possible to develop systems that automatise the trade with Steam accounts. This means that basic Steam Community Market utilities can be expanded upon by intermediaries.

While account-to-account trade is not burdened by any Steam commissions, those third parties might choose to impose some kind of fee for their go-between services, but it’s highly individualized. When the first such services appeared, they used substantial fees to benefit on any user seeking innovations. Nowadays, vast competition caused services to compete for the user with the lowest deductible interest possible to upkeep the infrastructure.

Skins as currency

Skins can be used to pay for other digital goods and services, and not only in a barter system. Of course, you can have all kinds of personal trades with other users where you’re not directed by the monetary value of items and come to your own terms, but here we’re talking about instances where one can literally use their Steam inventory as their wallet.

Services of that kind are not very popular, but they’re slowly garnering a keen user base, which is reflected by the fact that we have at least three methods of paying with skins available online at the moment.

Two of those — SkinPay and Pay.Skins.Cash — has really come out to the global digital entertainment market, offering an API that allows a painless integration of any paid service with an instant skin deposit system, opening a full spectrum of possibilities for players to change the outcome of their gaming into commodities or services.

Also, if you ever bought any games at Gamivo, you could notice that thanks to our mutual cooperation you can use Skinwallet to pay for them with your skins. Ain’t that a treat?

Cash for skins?

Some third parties make it possible for Steam users to perform what is called a mass deposit, which means you can sell a number of your skins to a service utilising trading bots within Steam and receive a cash payment for them. It usually requires the depositing party to have a non-banned Steam account and a configured payment method.

The range of payment methods depends on the setup of the third-party service itself, but it ranges from the more widespread systems like PayPal, bank wire transfers or Qiwi, to bitcoin and other crypto-currencies.

If you’re interested in selling your skins this way, it’s a good idea to check out the websites that make it possible to cash out with services specialising in multi-branch mass payments, like Tipalti. This way you gain access to a multitude of payment options. Even if it means one extra intermediary fee, sometimes it’s worth the flexibility, especially when you’re operating from a region that has a limited payment service provider access.

Where light grey turns to black

It’s sad to say that both the Steam API key and human gullibility are abused to a very disadvantageous extent. Aside from completely legal third-party services, there seems to be a never-ending surge of gambling websites that take in items from CS:GO, Dota 2, and other games that utilise Steam Inventory.

While they promise easy wins and huge earnings, the odds are never in your favor and you lose far more than you win. Unless you’re into the thrill of risk, there are other methods to turn your skins into profit which are more secure and less fortuitous.

Keeping it real

Users needing a surge of cash would be advised to entrust services that voice their concern for your safety and have a clear monetization procedure set out. With basically free access to Steam’s API, it’s hard to keep watch on every website’s process and intentions.

Nevertheless, the range of services allowing gamers to financially benefit from their inventories is growing, and thus a new ethos of usage slowly emerges. As it does, we’ll see further innovation, and perhaps, a world where digital items will transcend virtual space and make their way into our everyday lives.



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We are Skinwallet, a digital goods trading website. We believe in a future where you’ll be able to pay for real-life items with digital goods.