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A skin in CS:GO has made headlines this week for selling for $160,000, which makes it one of the biggest public sales in Counter Strike history. 

Why is an AK-47 Skin worth $160,000

What makes this gun skin so expensive? It must be one of a kind, right? Wrong. The skin in question is called the Wild Lotus and there are just under 3,000 of them in existence. But what makes this one so special is that it’s ‘factory new’. If you’re scratching your head and wondering how a digital item can have a value associated with it, you’re not the only one. It doesn’t actually have anything to do with if the item has been used or not.

When you obtain a skin in CS:GO, it is assigned a random value that represents its ‘wear,’ anything from battle-scarred to factory new. But this doesn’t actually change by using it. It’s just another facet of the rarity. The Wild Lotus that sold for $160,000 happens to be a ‘factory new.’

But that’s not the only reason its price is so high. It also features four rare stickers that are driving up its value. If you thought $160,000 for a gun skin was crazy, buckle up because the gun skin itself isn’t even the expensive part, apparently.

There are four Reason Holo Stickers from the Katowice 2014 CS:GO major that was applied to the weapon and they’re valued at $40,000 each. Priced at $160,000, the gun was just an add-on for the stickers. In fact, stickers tend to be one of the most expensive items in CS:GO.

Who's Buying These Skins?

In the case of the Wild Lotus, the buyer was a Chinese Collector, which Dexerto’s reporting points out is pretty typical for most high-tier items in CS:GO. As to why? Your guess is as good as anyone else's, but when you have money burning a hole in your pocket, you find things to spend it on.

It’s common for collectors to want to show off their rare and expensive skins by loaning them out to pros for big events. In the case of this Wild Lotus AK-47, it was used as recently as 2022 by FaZe Clan player Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken.

It’s important to note that these skins are only as valuable as whatever the most avid collector is willing to pay. There’s currently another AK-47 skin that is still up for sale and seeing offers of over 400k. Still, even that pales in comparison to the estimated $1.5 million for the Case Hardened Karambit Knife.

Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder

The idea of skins being valued so highly is a subject that splits the gaming community, but to what degree, no one will truly know. On March 5th, Dr. Disrespect tweeted about the idea of Blockchain backed cosmetics worth 100k in value in extraction type games such as Escape of Tarkov.

His tweet saw reactions from both sides of the spectrum, but it’s important to remember that only the players or those willing to buy these skins can give them such value. While you may have a small handful of collectors willing and able to drop several hundred thousand dollars, the majority of gamers fall into a different camp.

Just last February, Apex Legends saw backlash for their Collection Event, which rewarded a recolored peacekeeper skin that was previously only available to those who completed the battle pass in Season 3. The response was enough to get the Developers to admit they wouldn’t release another gun recolor in a Collection Event.

Obviously, there are still some stark differences between an event where everyone can purchase a skin and one that has a limited supply. But, ultimately, the real arbiters of the value behind these skins will be the developers themselves. It only takes one decision to re-release a classic skin to drive down the price of the originals.