10 Most Expensive CS:GO and CS2 Skins in 2023
The introduction of weapon skins to the competitive shooter CS:GO in 2013 is one of many reasons behind the continual growth of the game, and over the last few years, weapon skins in CS:GO have become an integral part of the experience for players. These cosmetic items not only add a touch of personality to players’ loadouts, but also increase their bragging rights among other players.
What are CS:GO skins?
CS:GO skins are a popular way for players to customize their gameplay experience and show off their personal style. Although weapon skins don’t grant any competitive advantage to the players on the battlefield, they can completely change the appearance of the weapons in CS:GO, allowing players to customize their in-game inventory as per their own liking. Weapon skins can either be unboxed from the cases that drop in-game, or players can choose to buy them directly from third-party marketplaces. Skins currently owned in CS:GO will carry over to the upcoming CS2 upgrade slated for this summer, where they will look even better thanks to the graphics improvements brought by CS2 to the lighting and texture of the entire game, including skins.
Price tags on CS:GO skins vary wildly. Some skins can be dirt cheap and can be bought off the marketplace for only a few cents, whereas others can cost tens of thousands of dollars, with some of the rarest CS:GO skins being priced at more than a million dollars. This leads us to the question—what makes a single skin worth so much money?
How are CS:GO skin prices determined?
The prices of skins are based on their rarity, attractiveness, investment value, and a bunch of other factors. The following factors affect how the value of a skin in the marketplace is perceived:
- Rarity—the most valuable skins are super difficult to obtain.
- Skin condition—is the skin worn out or new?
- Presence of the StatTrak™ feature
- Is the skin a souvenir?
- Presence of stickers and what those stickers are.
- Is the skin a contraband item?
Generally, the rarer the skin, the more expensive it is. Skins are categorized into seven rarity grades from most common to rarest as follows:
- Exceedingly Rare
Skins in poor condition are usually worth less than those that look brand new. Skin condition is set when the skin is unboxed and never changes. When equipped, the skin’s condition affects how old a weapon looks, but keep in mind it is a cosmetic factor only. Skin condition is categorized into five groups on the basis of an assigned hidden float value that ranges from 0 to 1.
- Factory new: this is the best condition a skin can be in. Skins in this condition appear unused, although you may notice a few very minor scratches.
- Minimal wear: skins have a few obvious scratches, but these will usually be considered nothing major.
- Field-tested: slight signs of decay are noticeable, and the skins may have blemishes that cover a small portion (2%–10%) of the body of the weapon. These skins can look slightly lower quality than factory new skins but they can also give weapons a desirable rugged/worn style.
- Well-worn: skins will have some seriously noticeable signs of wear and tear, including scratches, fading, rust, and large blemishes.
- Battle-scarred: massive tears, rust, and worn-out paint are visible, usually making these skins less valuable. These skins are also quite common, further decreasing their value.
The third most important factor affecting how much a skin is worth is whether it is a StatTrak™ item. The StatTrak™ feature adds significant value to skins. CS:GO StatTrak™ is a virtual technology that enables tracking of certain in-game statistics. For example, StatTrak™ weapon skins keep track of the number of kills made using the weapon equipped with the skin, and StatTrak™ music kits count the number of times the player appeared as the round MVP.
Most expensive CS:GO and CS2 skins
If you are an avid CS:GO skin collector and want to make your inventory stand out from the crowd, you might want to get yourself some rare and pricey skins; however, with so many factors affecting price and the large quantity of skins available, trying to find skins that are genuinely expensive and not just highly priced on a marketplace is difficult. Fortunately, we have done everything in our power to narrow things down. Let’s take a look at 10 of the most expensive CS:GO skins on the market.
1. StatTrak™ Talon Knife | Doppler (Sapphire) - 1.1k USD
This ivory-handled talon knife features brass rivets and saw-tooth ridges. It has been painted with black and silver metallic paints using a marbleizing medium in a pattern of translucent wavy lines resembling smoke, then candy coated. The color scheme of the sapphire skin includes various shades of blue creating gradient transitions.
2. M4A1-S | Welcome to the Jungle - 3.3k USD
The Welcome to the Jungle skin depicts a golden pit viper painted over a thick jungle background and is a favorite among players. The skin was put into the game in December 2020 along with the Operation Broken Fang update and usually sells for around $1,000. However, a souvenir version in good condition can fetch significantly more.
3. Souvenir AK-47 | Gold Arabesque - 5.9k USD
The AK-47 | Gold Arabesque is an exquisite CS:GO skin known for its stunning design and intricate details. The skin features a gold-colored geometric pattern with intricate Arabesque motifs that create an elegant and luxurious appearance. If the price for the skin itself starts at $2,000, then the price for the souvenir version can exceed $12,000.
4. StatTrak™ AK-47 | Fire Serpent - 6.0k USD
The Fire Serpent skin was added to the game way back in September 2013. The skin was part of the Operation Bravo update and as such can be obtained by opening the Operation Bravo case. The skin features a green serpent with huge fangs depicted on the side of the weapon alongside what appear to be clouds. The StatTrak™ version is currently available for approximately $5,050.
5. AWP | Medusa - 6.6k USD
AWP | Medusa. This skin features the image of a gorgon painted on to the infamous AWP, and the factory new, covert variant currently sells for approximately $6,600.
6. StatTrak™ Butterfly Knife | Lore - 9.6k USD
This skin for the Butterfly Knife is one of the newest most expensive skins, being added to the game in September 2021 as part of the Operation Riptide update. The skin itself appears to have gold plating and features a beautiful engraving across its blade.
7. StatTrak™ M4A4 | Howl - 18.0k USD
The iconic StatTrak™ M4A4 | Howl is possibly the most expensive CS:GO skin and certainly the rarest. It’s a contraband skin (the only one of this rarity), which means that you can’t get it by opening cases anymore. In fact, the only way to obtain the Howl is through trading it with other players on skin marketplaces.
8. StatTrak™ AK-47 | Case Hardened (661) - $30.0k USD
Case Hardened AK skins can sell for exorbitant prices, depending on the pattern. Although most AK-47 | Case Hardened skins are only a few hundred dollars, pattern number 661 has an estimated value of around $30,000–$35,000.
9. Souvenir AWP | Dragon Lore - 150k USD
The AWP | Dragon Lore is an iconic CS:GO skin that was added to the game with the Operation Breakout update in July 2014. The skin features a fire-breathing dragon painted on its side and is part of the Cobblestone Collection. The Dragon Lore skin is so rare that it’s difficult to determine its price, however the Souvenir version in excellent condition can sell for more than $150,000.
10. Karambit | Case Hardened (387) - 200.0k USD
Karambit Case Hardened knives are relatively rare, with Factory New variants typically selling for $2,000. However, the so-called “blue gem” Karambit Case Hardened knife is on a whole new level. The 387 pattern is considered a blue gem and is the most sought-after pattern. Pattern 387 puts a ton of blue on the side of the knife players see when wielding it. Regardless of the skin’s condition, that particular pattern makes the knife worth thousands. Hundreds of thousands, in fact, according to skin collectors.
New wave of account bans has left $2 million worth of skins in limbo
Players who have geared up their loadouts with CS:GO skins may wish to take extra care not to get their accounts banned by Valve, which is something that happened to approximately 40 accounts in June when Valve moved to mitigate illegal CSGO skin gambling activities. Valve’s community ban policy restricts banned users from trading their skins, effectively leaving skins in a state of permanent inventory limbo. The recent wave of bans resulted in approximately $2 million worth of skins belonging to the banned accounts effectively being destroyed and has led to major repercussions for the CS:GO trading community. As Valve continues its crackdown, the future of skin trading within the game could undergo significant changes, and uncertainty around this issue is likely to cause players to hesitate with buying new skins in the short term, potentially leading to decreases in the prices of skins.
The impact of CS2 on in-game skins
The release of Counter-Strike 2 (CS2) on September 27, 2023, has had a noticeable impact on the in-game skin market, with a significant decline in prices, particularly for higher-tier and popular skins. This price drop can be attributed to several factors, including disappointment in the game's unfinished state, negative changes in the appearance and perceived wear of skins due to the new engine, and a sense of panic among collectors about the game's direction, prompting a sell-off to avoid further losses. Despite this downturn for expensive skins, the increase in value of more affordable and liquid skins like the AK-47 | Rat Rod indicates that the game is still attracting new players and maintaining a degree of market health. The rise in these lower-tier skin prices suggests that while the high-end market may be volatile, the overall skin economy retains stability due to the volume and demand for more accessible skins.
Ashley is a technology writer who is interested in computers and software development. He is also a fintech researcher and is fascinated with emerging trends in DeFi, blockchain, and bitcoin. He has been writing, editing, and creating content for the ESL industry in Asia for eight years, with a special focus on interactive, digital learning.