According to the CS2casetracker portal, in 2023, more than 400 million cases were opened by Counter-Strike players in the game. When converted to monetary value, the game developer, Valve, earned nearly $1 billion solely from this method of monetization. The magnitude of this figure is astonishing, yet at the same time concerning.
The act of opening cases in CS is akin to gambling, which can have detrimental effects on individuals and potentially lead to dependency. While people naturally enjoy collecting skins, the inclusion of an element of excitement intensifies the experience, contributing to the game’s immense success within a community of 15-20 million individuals. Consequently, substantial profits can be generated through the sale of gaming cosmetics alone.
Despite the entertainment value and the abundance of content stemming from this system, it cultivates negative gambling tendencies in individuals, which may have dire consequences in the future.
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How the case opening system works in CS
In Counter-Strike, cases feature numerous skins with different prices and levels of rarity. When you open a case, the likelihood of obtaining a common Mil-Spec skin (blue) is considerably higher compared to acquiring a slightly more uncommon skin, and so forth. The distribution of probabilities is as follows:
- Mil-Spec: 79.92%
- Restricted: 15.98%
- Classified: 3.2%
- Covert: 0.64%
- Exceptionally rare (gloves or knives): 0.26%
On average, it takes approximately 400 cases to obtain a pair of gloves or a knife skin. Naturally, one might wonder why not simply purchase these skins directly from the Steam Market or any other specialized skin trading platform?
Valve will earn a billion dollars in 2023
The issue lies in the high cost of desirable skins, which are often inaccessible to regular users who do not invest real money into the game. A simple knife skin can range from $500 to $3,000, while certain gloves or skins can fetch prices exceeding $10,000 or more.
From a buyer’s perspective, paying such exorbitant prices may not be financially justifiable. On the other hand, purchasing a case and hoping for a valuable drop is comparatively inexpensive. The cost typically consists of a few dollars for the case (if purchasing an older one) and approximately $2.5 for the key required to unlock it. For a mere $4 to $5, one can open a case and potentially receive an item worth anywhere from $50 to $20,000 in certain cases.
However, considering the overall odds, including factors such as skin quality and variety within the cases, it becomes evident that, on average, the likelihood of losing money outweighs the chances of making a profit. This is precisely how Valve has accumulated nearly a billion dollars, capitalizing on players’ aspirations for valuable drops from cases. It is worth noting that it is more prudent to spend money on buying flowers for one’s mother than on opening these cases. In fact, some countries have taken measures at the state level to compel Valve to modify its gambling policies, recognizing the significant threat posed by enticing children at a young age with attractive skins and encouraging them to spend their parents’ money.