What Shakes the CS:GO Skins Market [Part 1/2]
…and how to prepare for it.
While trading on virtually any traditional market you have to be on the lookout for sudden events that may shift prices. The same is true for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive skin trading. Nowadays, people that know what to expect (more or less) and how to act upon those expectations are what we call veteran traders or veteran investors. More often than not, they are able to amass considerable capital by reading the market correctly. One thing that helps enormously is recognizing patterns. If something has happened in the past and had a specific effect on the market, there is a good chance that it will have a similar outcome in the future.
Today we’ll be talking about the biggest events that are the usual cause of drastic price changes on the skin trading market. First, we’ll focus on situations that are somewhat cyclical in nature and will certainly happen again. Subsequently, we’ll discuss the isolated incidents that had a considerable impact on the market but are rather abnormal and should be judged more as a curiosity than any kind of sound planning.
All that to help you better understand the forces that shape this quite futuristic market.
Release of a new case or collection
Containers such as Cases and Sticker Capsules are one of the principal release channels for new items as well as the initial substantiation of their monetary value. Therefore it shouldn’t come as a surprise whenever a new case is released there’s a commotion on the global market. After all, that means new skins are being added to the game, and some, like Desert Eagle | Prinstream , become instant classics right after release.
However, there is a lot more to take into consideration than just the new skins. Practically every weapon case has a chance to drop one of the extremely rare items, knives, or gloves, which are usually worth much more than the rest of the contents of the crate. Moreover, there isn’t a single case that can drop all of the knives available. Naturally, cases that hold items of a bigger demand are worth proportionally more, while those with less popular potential contents have a negative influence on the overall case value. This creates very interestingly, intersecting trends.
When the Shattered Web Case was first released as a part of Operation Shattered Web it came with four completely new knives with models and animations well-received by the general public. Moreover, as an Operation-related case, it was available as an in-game drop only throughout the duration of that particular Operation. When the Operation came to an end we observed a steady value growth of the now exclusive and no longer supplied case with unique knives.
However, on August 7th, 2020 CS:GO players received a new crate — The Fracture Case. Apart from new skins, it reintroduced the four much-coveted knives from the Shattered Web Case. Shattered Web Cases, having not much left speaking in their favor, have been losing in value ever since.
A new case or collection is released more or less twice a year. How to approach this event? The best thing is to not buy the newly added skins for the first two or even three weeks after the initial release. Just give the market time to settle on some prices. On the other hand, if you managed to drop one of the new skins, it may be best to sell them as soon as possible. Wealthy collectors hunting the newest pieces no matter the cost have always existed and will most likely exist in the future.
Start of a new Operation
For the Counter-Strike community, a new Operation is a small holiday. To this day there were nine Operations with Shattered Web coming after a long 2-year hiatus. Besides introducing a new case exclusive to that particular operation, they usually come with some additional collections, for example, Shattered Web cases have introduced, in parallel to new skins, three complete collections: Rome-inspired Canals, Caribbean-themed St. Marc, and Nordic-fueled Norse. All three were community collections on top of that, which means they were first featured in the Steam Workshop and upvoted by the community to be included in the next batch of skins.
New Operation also means new operation-specific maps, game modes, achievements, and goals — basically, a timed DLC built around the core mechanics of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. However, what made Operation Shattered Web different from the others is that they introduced wholly new customization options: character skins and patches for character models that alter how other players see you in-game and what voice lines your character has.
Moreover, you could unlock all tiers of character skins by earning ‘stars’ which you gathered throughout the Operation missions. If you didn’t want to wait you could simply buy the missing stars to unlock all of the rewards. A sound mechanic, right?
Except for one tiny detail. The Operation is a Steam purchase, therefore you have to buy it with a Steam Wallet balance. The same goes for operation stars. And is there a better way to gather the funds other than selling your old skins on the Community Market?
In one day the community had received one new case, one new sticker capsule, three new community collections, brand new character skins and patches as well as the ability to buy access to the operation with the same balance you use for reading inside the Steam Community Market. Oh, and people used it.
Skins market dropped by around 20% across the board. Although in the end the prices normalized and went back to the state from before the operation in a few weeks or so, many investors lost their stock by selling out when the prices were low.
Now with many rumors surrounding the tenth Operation — suggesting that it’s basically finished, we have to be ready for anything. We will definitely get a new case and some new collections including new stickers, but what about character skins? Will we be able to buy Operation stars for skins? Only time will tell.
Steam Sales are platform-wide events that, interestingly enough, have a visible influence on the skins market even though Steam Sales aren’t limited to the Counter-Strike franchise. Usually being conducted a few times a year, Steam Sales are an opportunity to buy many titles while enjoying considerable discounts. Traditionally the biggest Sales are Summer and Winter Steam Sales.
From the skins market perspective, a big Steam Sales usually mean a slight drop in prices and a higher volume of transactions. Players unload their old skins onto the Community Market for less than average to sell them as quickly as possible and buy their desired games for the gathered funds. At the same time, many people are interested in buying the skins for less than normal, some as an investment, most however as so-called play skins.
Winter Steam Sale, in particular, is also the time in which the skin trading becomes much more lively. As stated before transaction volume is bigger, prices are a bit lower, but in contrast to any other time of the year, a bigger number of high-tier skins is being traded. Therefore, even though the prices are a bit lower, the big volume of transactions with higher average transaction value results in more money flowing through the market. This is usually preceded by a natural downturn trend on market (traders are preparing for the busy Winter Sale) which we can currently observe.
For any trader interested in making profits, it may be a good idea to stock up on liquid items such as AK-47 | Redline or AWP | Asiimov that will surely find many buyers.