What was once a dream has become a reality. Counter-Strike 2 has finally been announced and as expected, the community went nuclear. It wasn’t only for the exciting new gameplay features but also for the graphics improvements that make the somewhat dated 2012 CS:GO look more like a modern AAA title.
The graphics improvements have made everything look brighter and crisper through the use of new lighting and rendering techniques. This has had a major impact on skins and translated into hype among the dedicated skins community that has skyrocketed prices like never before.
The prices have largely continued to increase daily and while there are many unanswered questions from the community on whether to buy or sell, the real question is, what’s the limit and how has the market changed overall?
Better Lighting, Better Skins
The maps in CS2 use the Source 2 lighting engine, including a physically based rendering system that produces realistic materials, lighting and reflections. Or as Valve has described it: cleaner, brighter better.
While Owen "smooya" Butterfield's knife being on fire a la Team Fortress 2 is a bug, the updated graphics have made smooya's $15k+ Butterfly Knife | Fade all the more appealing to hardcore collectors. This effect can be seen across the market with other rare finishes like Doppler Ruby and Doppler Black Pearl seeing their prices almost double following the CS2 beta.
These visual upgrades are, however, not exclusive to knives as even skins that were unpopular in CS:GO have been revamped with the new lighting and texture changes. The Desert Eagle | Bronze Deco and Five-Seven | Copper Galaxy that have both been given a new lease on life with a nice gold finish.
A clip of a certain skin in CS2 was all it took for players to start dumping their money into something that wouldn't stay the same for certain. After all, it’s only a “Limited Beta Test” which means that it’s not the final version and updates will be pushed to achieve perfection.
The "Limited Beta Test" was simply ignored by many and therefore the price was paid. A good example of that would be the AWP skins. Before reverting it in an update, the scopes were also covered in the same skin as the rest of the weapon and people were crazy about it.
The AWP Sun in Leo spiked from $20 to $75 at the peak just for it to drop back again after the update reverted the new changes. The Glock-18 Gamma Doppler and many other skins followed the same trend.
Stickers Buff & Nerf
While skins have received a clear update, stickers on the other hand struggled. In the first version of the beta, the Holo effect was unpleasant and placed in worse positions on different weapons which simply seemed odd and out of place.
With that being said, CS2 has made helped a lot of other stickers with a facelift. For example, the RMR 2020 stickers, which have been regarded as one of the weaker team sticker packs, have seen their Holo effect revised.
This, using the Fnatic 2020 RMR Holo as an example, saw the price briefly jump from under 40 cents to around a $1.50, which is impressive for a previously lackluster sticker.
It was a tempting investment opportunity and players instantly started buying hoping they’d make a quick profit. Sadly, their hopes got crushed by Valve as they changed the Holo effect after a short couple of days. Though updates were released to fix all the issues with cosmetics, the stickers still struggled. The latest update made some expensive stickers look dark and dull such as the Crown (Foil).
Valve are certainly working on a fix. It might take some time but taking into consideration how important and expensive some of these stickers can be, an update should be expected. Overall, this shows how CS2 caused massive fluctuations in the skins market even for cheaper items.
Agents, Cases and Patches
Along with skins and stickers, agent models, cases and even patches have been affected by CS2, with most items receiving a healthy bump.
For example, the Bayonet Frog Patch exploded from $30 to currently selling at around ~$112 while the price peaked at $225 briefly. Sir Bloody Miami Darryl, Cmdr. Davida 'Goggles' Fernandez and many other agents have jumped in price overnight after CS2 was revealed, due to agent models also receiving a visual boost.
Price spikes are common in CS:GO after major updates or announcements, and it's tough to see how the market will shift once CS2 officially releases this summer, but the overall impact of CS2 has seen prices skyrocket in favor of a sellers' market.
Until that day comes, fans have to continue monitoring the market and make financial choices in what seems to currently be a bull market in CS's mini "stock market".