Inside the $50 Billion ‘Counter-Strike’ Skins Industry
OPSkins raised $41 million via crypto-currency to sell unique add-ons to the popular video game.
The arms dealers putting their lives and freedom at risk to make exchanges in back markets are doing it all wrong. It turns out it’s potentially nearly as lucrative, and much safer, to sell “skins” for the video game, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Particularly for OPSkins, the largest site in the $50 billion cottage industry for these “skins,” or unique finishes for the weapons in Valve’s popular shooter game.
Bloomberg Businessweek gives an eye-opening look at OPSkin’s raising of $41 million in two years through the sale of a virtual currency it dubbed, “WAX tokens.” That is a reference to the company’s skins index, Worldwide Asset eXchange, in which a bitcoin-like digital ledger system to peg a particular skin’s value sold across the market, that opens in December.
Skins, which are for cosmetic use only in the game, have become a high-stakes gambling commodity, with some going for as much as $100,000 as a sort of status symbol. And by making the WAX exchange open to potential rival companies, OPSkins is wagering it can claim a larger part of the market than it could as an individual website.
But it is indeed a big wager of an investment — particularly since Valve, the company behind Counter-Strike: Global Offensive sent cease-and-desist legal letters to 23 sites ordering them to stop using skins as collateral in gambling.
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