A Counter-Strike: Global Offensive weapon skin designer revealed how much money creators make when one of their cosmetic skins is accepted by Valve: "way more" than $40,000 a pop.
Designer Chris "CLeGFX" Le said during a live stream yesterday that when community-made weapon skins for CS:GO were accepted and added into the game by Valve in the old days (circa CS:GO’s 2012 release), creators would earn about $40,000. Nowadays, Le said, "You get way way way way way more than that."
That is five ways.
Unfortunately, due to Valve’s tight-lipped policies on monetization of skins, we don’t know exactly how much skin creators are making these days. But we do know how the weapon skin economy works.
When a CS:GO skin is accepted by Valve, it is added to a skin crate with a handful of other community-made skins. These crates are randomly given to players at the end of games and will give players one random skin from the selection. The crates can be opened with a key that costs $2.50. If a creator’s skin is included in that crate, they get a cut from that key sale. Creators also get a cut from peer-to-peer sales of their skins.
Valve does not disclose the percentage cut that creators get from either of these transactions and creators are not allowed to say how many of their skins have been sold. But we know it’s enough to make a living off of if you can get at least one skin accepted every year.
Le alone has had five different skins added to CS:GO crates since 2015, netting him at least $200,000 in just two years. He has made and submitted a lot more than five weapon skins though — he has 40 CS:GO skins on his Steam workshop page that haven’t been picked up. At least not yet.
Another designer, Coridium, has been making weapon skins for CS:GO since late 2013. Out of 50 submitted skins, a whopping 17 have been accepted. That is at least $680,000 earned from CS:GO skins since 2013, though it’s probably a lot more considering they created some of the most popular skins in the game, including the white-and-orange Asiimov guns.
And that’s just CS:GO weapon skins. That doesn’t include the money they’ve made from stickers, sprays, or Dota 2 cosmetics.
This doesn’t mean just anyone can whip up a design for a gun and make bank, though. You have to have some serious design skills to be accepted. Valve doesn’t want amateur-looking designs in their games (except for the mesh skins, apparently — those are pretty weak).