The Counter-Strike: Global Offensive micropayment service was introduced in the Arms Deal Update on the 13th August 2013. The update introduced weapon skins that customise the appearance of guns and knives. The skins are completely cosmetic and do not affect gameplay, although their colours and patterns could give a niche tactical advantage or disadvantage. The update also introduced the crate and key system seen in other Valve titles with microtransactions.
Skins are equipped in the Inventory menu. Players can choose which skin to use for each gun, and can use different skins for the same gun depending on if they are playing as Terrorists or Counter-Terrorists. As players can choose between two types of guns for certain slots (eg. the M4A4 and M4A1-S), players cannot modify loadouts during a Competitive Match.
Weapon skins can be obtained through the following ways:
- Earned through random timed drops when playing in matchmaking and community servers. On average, players obtain two skins and two crates a week, although this is based on anecdotal evidence.
- Opening Weapon Cases. These cases often give weapons that cannot be obtained via drops, and have a chance of including a StatTrak™ device that tracks kills (similar to Strange items in Team Fortress 2).
- Combining existing skins in a Trade Up Contract to obtain a rarer skin.
- Trading with other players.
- Buying from the Steam Community Market.
Items come in a variety of rarity grades that signify their rarity:
|Consumer Grade||Base Grade||#B0C3D9||Called "Common" in the schema.|
|Industrial Grade||Medium Grade||#5E98D9||Called "Uncommon" in the schema.|
|Mil-Spec||High Grade||#4B69FF||Items available from containers are at least of this rarity. Called "Rare" in the schema.|
|Restricted||Remarkable||#8847FF||Called "Mythical" in the schema.|
|Classified||Exotic||#D32CE6||Called "Legendary" in the schema.|
|Covert||Extraordinary||#EB4B4B||The highest quality of normally available items. Also assigned to knives. Called "Ancient" in the schema.|
|Contraband||#E4AE33||Assigned to retired items on a case-by-case basis.|
As well as rarity, items can have a quality which gives the item a prefix and colour. Possible qualities include:
|Normal||#B2B2B2||Attached to stock items.|
|Unique||#D2D2D2||The "default" quality for items. Confusingly labeled as "Normal" in the Steam Community Market.|
|StatTrak™||#CF6A32||Listed as "Strange" in the schema.|
|Souvenir||#FFD700||Attached to items obtained from Souvenir Packages. Listed as "Tournament" in the schema.|
|★||#8650AC||Attached to knives. Can also be combined with the StatTrak™ quality. Called "Unusual" in the schema.|
|Prototype||#70B04A||Keys of this quality are given to the contributors of the items in the corresponding container. Called "Selfmade" in the schema.|
The final property of weapon skins is the exterior wear. This affects the appearance of the skin and represents random wear and tear. The level of wear on a skin is determined when the skin drops (either as part of a timed drop or unboxing from a case) and cannot be changed. Some weapons will not have all five wear levels (eg. the AK-47 Redline cannot be found in Factory New condition). The wear hierarchy, in order from least to most worn is as follows:
- Factory New
- Minimal Wear
In general, the less worn the skin, the more valuable it is. While the value of a skin can be based on a combination of its rarity, quality and wear, the appearance of the skin itself plays an important role. For example, despite both being ultra rare knives, the Butterfly Knife is inherently more valuable than a Gut Knife because of its design and animations.