What Shakes the CS:GO Skins Market [Part 2/2]
… and how to prepare for it.
The global Counter-Strike: Global Offensive skins market works like any other complex market. Every niche has its own rules and specificity, attracts a little bit different types of traders and investors, and has slightly different trading cycles and opportunities.
Luckily, there are events that have an impact on the global skin trading market and are quite cyclical. Therefore, by observing the market and taking notes from the past events a trader or investor can better prepare for what’s to come and act appropriately to the situation.
In part 1 we’ve already discussed the release of new skin content (case or collection), an Operation (a timed DLC), and the Steam Sale and their impact on the skins market. You can read it here.
This time we will focus more impact that esports have on the digital goods in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. First, however, we have to discuss what digital goods are related to the esport scene the most, and how this connection really works.
Stickers and Souvenirs
Among the thousands of items found in the CS:GO digital repository, there are two types of niche items that have the biggest connection to CS:GO esports.
Firstly, we have stickers. These digital stickers mimic real-life stickers, meaning you can apply them on a gun. This “consumes” the sticker which is then visible on one of the spots on your gun of choice. Being consumable items, stickers have a much smaller supply than normal skins. When it comes to demand, well, let’s just say there is a huge sprawling market built around sticker trading and investing which is directly related to esports. The most coveted and expensive stickers are those related to esports teams or autograph stickers of particular players.
The second type of item that has its roots in esports events is Souvenir skins. Souvenir skins are versions of some of the normal skins, which come neither from playing the game nor opening cases but rather a special type of container — souvenir packs. These packs are awarded to some of the people watching official streams during the biggest CS:GO tournaments, Majors. The packs are always related to the Major maps as well as the competing teams — Souvenir skins come with a pre-applied team and player stickers.
The entire system of distribution may seem rather complicated, but let us visualize it on a clear example.
Back during the last CS:GO Major in late 2019, Billy’s watching the competition. He bought the Viewer Pass, which enables him to get rewards for his watch time on Twitch. For his reward, he picked a skin from a game played on Overpass by Astralis and G2 Esports. This guarantees that when he opens the case, he will receive a random skin from the Overpass Collection, with Astralis and G2 Stickers, along with an autograph of one the players from the two teams.
Depending on what skin and which stickers it may be worth a few cents or several hundred thousands of dollars. Now let’s look at the actual events that shake the market!
All this brings us Majors and their impact on the skin market. Major tournaments are basically the biggest CS:GO tournaments that are co-organized by Valve. Introduced in 2013, Majors have a big prize pool of $1,000,000. For a CS:GO team winning a Major is equal to becoming the world champions.
From a trader’s perspective, Majors add a lot of new Souvenir skins on the market as well as new sticker capsules with esport-related stickers. Moreover, all items redeemed through the Souvenir packages can be instantly traded, since there’s no trade cooldown on them.
On top of that, don’t underestimate the esports fans’ feelings. There are many collectors that focus on particular teams or players and tend to pay much for new Souvenirs with particular stickers. Additionally, skins such as the Souvenir AWP | Dragon Lore have an extremely small supply and are in high demand among players, collectors, and traders alike and can reach absurd prices pretty fast.
Actually, that is the backstory of one of the biggest transactions in CS:GO history. The fabled Souvenir AWP | Dragon Lore traded for over $61,000 right after the 2018 Boston Major autographed by Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham who won the MVP award as a hometown favourite in Beantown, was, in fact, a skin dropped during the 2017 PGL Major Kraków. What drove its price so hard was the pro-player’s performance almost half a year later.
The current holder of the title of “the most expensive skins” is an M4A4 | Howl (a very rare skin that is no longer in supply) with now-defunct iBUYPOWER stickers. Although Howl in itself is already a very expensive skin, the thing that made it reach the $100,000 price tag was the extremely rare stickers coveted by all collectors.
A Sticky Situation
Majors aren’t the only esports events that can shake the market and change the prices. When it comes to esports stickers, their price can change overnight due to any events on the esport scene, or even rumors. Holding stickers of well-known teams may be a very lucrative investment. A good example of that is when the prices of sticker-autographs of the Polish team Virtus.Pro skyrocketed after the organization terminated all player contracts. This caused a 40% rise in value.
The limited supply (due to being discontinued) and high demand transform Stickers into a very volatile niche market. With their prices, after reaching a few hundred or thousands of dollars it’s a market that can be easily manipulated.
This is what happened in July 2020, when Chinese investors and traders started a sticker boom by overpaying for some of the popular investment stickers such as Katowice 2014 Holo stickers. After three weeks, the profits on certain stickers could reach even 400%. Observing the sticker market and jumping in on occasion may be very profitable, however, please remember that all violent trends usually end up normalizing sooner or later, and it’s quite easy to lose a lot of money due to factors outside of the trader’s control.
The wide, wide world
Although CS:GO skins trading market may seem secretive and hard to grasp, it is a full-fledged, mature market with different niches that can satisfy traders, investors, and collectors alike. Why not give it a go?
Should you have any questions related to investing or trading CS:GO items, feel free to comment or write to us. We’ll be happy to help!