Rugged Opinions

How I made 400 euro in Counter Strike: Global Offensive

by Jack Napier on May 14, 2014

With a headline announcing I made 400 euros trading CS: GO skins, weapons and cases on the Steam Market, I assume many of you rushed to see what this is about and what is the magical secret that allowed me to get to this wonderful amount. Surprise, it doesn’t exist. It’s just speculation on the Steam Market, knowing when to sell and when to buy and especially learning that some things can be achieved only if you have patience.

My current inventory:

A screenshot of the Steam Inventory

For argument’s sake I must admit that “I sunk” around 25 euros into the game. This is because I bought the season passes for Bravo, Phoenix and the recent Operation Breakout, and three box keys. But outside the price of the game and what I mentioned earlier I didn’t spend a nickel.

The basic idea was: you first need to know how many drops you get per week. In general, depending on how much you play, you get between 2 and 8 drops weekly, this drop system resetting every Thursday. You get three weapon skins weekly on average and three cases, some more valuable than others, with some reaching the price of two or more euros per case. So, to review:

  • Average number of weekly drops: Between 2 and 8;
  • Average number of daily drops: Between 2 and 4;
  • Average number of drops by type: 2 cases, 3 weapon skins;
  • Can I get a drop on any server? Only on VAC-protected ones;
  • Can I be a jerk screaming into the microphone and still get drops? YES!
  • How random are drops? Extremely;
  • When do I get something? At the end of a game, whether you won or lost;
  • Does my final score influence my drops? No;
  • Do I get weapon skins or cases if I play offline with bots? No;
  • I’m joining a death match near the end of the round Do I still get something? Yes;
  • Does my Steam level affect drop rates? No;
  • Can I receive the same gun several times? Da;
  • I play on local servers. Do I receive something? No;
  • Do I get anything if I play Arms Race? Yes;
  • Do I get anything on empty servers? No;
  • Do I get something on servers with bots? Yes, as long as the servers are VAC-secure;
  • Do I receive drops if I spectate? Only on special occasions in competitions;
  • Do I get anything on idle servers? Yes;
  • I received a Factory New gun. Does it change to Minimal Wear if I use it? No;
  • Am I likely to get drops faster in competitive play? Yes;
  • Do I get Stat Tracks or Knives in drops? No;
  • Do I get drops on all maps? Yes;
  • What is drop dictated by? The account, not IP or location;
  • Can I drop keys? No;
  • There’s only me and a friend on the server. Do we get drops? Yes.
  • I have an Operation Breakout pass. Do I drop more? Yes.

Okay, now that I understand the drop system, now what? Well, dear reader, you have two options now. With the new Operation Breakout you can do more than you imagined. So far things were simple. You joined the server and you played, and at the end of the game you had a chance to drop a skin or a case depending on how lucky you were.

Besides drops you could get contracts, which you could fulfill and get a gun. These contracts range from winning a competitive match on a specific map to playing with a certain weapon to gather a number of frags. For these contracts, in 99% of cases you get a blue gun, which can cost between 0.05 cents to even 200 euros if you get lucky.

A screenshot of the endgame of a CS GO round with item drops

Now that we know the theory and have all the data, let’s begin explaining how I made the above amount with minimum financial effort.

When Valve implemented Arms Deal I wasn’t playing Counter Strike: Global Offensive other than for some entertainment in Arms Race, however, with this new update I saw a financial opportunity. In the past I farmed idle TF2 servers for items, which I turned into metal, the metal into keys, and the keys into games. Now, with Steam’s Market implementation I saw a unique opportunity and tried to speculate on the situation as much as I could.

So what did I do? I started playing competitively as much as I could, as the drop rate was higher and all my “winnings” got on the market. At first people were buying AK or AUG skins with both hands, and the prices were extremely high. That’s not to mention the cases, but I’ll get to those in a moment. The thing that you have to remember now is that the CS GO item market is very high, with models that cost 0.03 cents and some costing 300+ euro. Usually dictated by the seller and the rarity of the skin in question. So you have to know when to buy and when to sell. This is where the evil genius that is I comes into the game.

On Steam I have a fairly large number of games, over 1,000 at last count. Hand up what you started getting on steam from various games recently? TRA… DING… CARDS!!!

Good! Now that you got to collect cards from all those games, what will you do with them? Well! You can sell them or make badges. I made badges up to level 38 and then I quit this sport, finding that they can make more money out of selling them and through market speculation. How did I do this?

A screenshot of the Steam Market, where you can buy and sell items for profit

First you have to know when to sell a card. The best time to sell trading cards on Steam is between 3am and 8 am. This is when the market is most active in my experience. You then sell as many trading cards as you can and try to turn a profit, which sits nicely in your Steam Wallet until you decide to buy something with it. What did I choose to purchase? Well since I have over 1000 games on Steam I racked up about 45 dollars until Operation Bravo came out. Money that used to buy the cheapest knife I could find on the market. That is, a 23 euro Flip Knife | Urban Masked and I sold it for 57 euros a few days later (#Hustler, amirite?) and I had a profit. But any profits must be reinvested, don’t they?

A picture presentation of Steam Trading Cards

I kept the profits and started noticing what was happening to the Steam market and what sold best. Surprisingly, AK was one of the most purchased weapons. So I decided to use the game in my favor. Using my profits and a considerable number of hours lost trying to figure out how the Trade Up Contracts worked, I decided that the best investment was NOVA | Ghost Camo (Factory New). Why? Because if you have ten such weapons and use the Trade Up Contracts you can get one of two weapons: an AK-47 Blue Laminated or a P90 Blind Spot.

At that time a Ghost Camo Factory New was between 0.07 and 0.05 cents, however after I purchased these in bulk, the Factory New price jumped up to 0.09. So until April 1st I had a full inventory of NOVA | Ghost Camo, which I put into the Trade Up Contract and out came 14 AK47s Factory New and 8 P90 Blind Spots.

All the AK47’s went into the Market and sold for 1.25 euros each while the P90’s I decided to “destroy” take a little risk, buying another two and using a Trade Up Contract on them. What came out of it? An AWP Electric Hive that I sold for 6.50 Euro.

A picture of the AK47 Blue Laminate inside the Steam Inventory

At this time, counting other sales in my Steam Wallet, I had gathered about 80 Euro, that’s because I also sold cases. We’ll get to that in a moment. Speculation on case prices is extremely important. You have to know when to buy, when to sell, and especially when you should stock up. Any box that reaches the price of 0.05 cents does not deserve to be sold. Its purpose is to gather dust in the inventory for a long time. Prices for cases generally start at 5 euros and then slowly but surely go down to 0.03 cents. Fortunately sometimes they grow and if you hold on to them until they do you can turn a nice profit. But for that you have to have patience.

When do you stop selling them? That must have been quite clear. When the price drops to 0.05 cents.

What should you buy? Only operations cases, such as eSports, Winter Case, Bravo or Phoenix.

When should you buy? Generally buy when the price reaches 0.03 cents a case.

When should be the next time you sell? That depends on how your head wants. You can wait a year for prices to go up and then sell them for a healthy profit, as I did with a ton of Bravo cases that I’d collected on a secondary account and sold them like hot cakes when the price reached 1.68 euros. I bought about 100 Bravo cases in December at 10 cents, only to have a handsome profit in April. That’s around 150 euro profit.

A picture of the Huntsman Weapon Case

As long as you pay attention to the Market, you don’t jump the gun on price competition when buying or selling a skin or a case, profit is guaranteed. So I got to treat myself on Steam because my Wallet was getting pretty fat.

Two other things that I recommend:

1 – If there’s a sale, like Black Friday, Winter Sale or any other special event, keep an eye on the market. Prices will decline visibly and you can buy skins and cases at low prices, the sell them gradually at higher prices over the next several weeks.

2 – If there are any special boxes or capsules that do not require a key to open them, buy them like crazy. Do not sell anything, don’t sell weapons either, keep them nicely in your inventory waiting for the expected increase in price. Open half, keep half of them in inventory. Such was the case for the EMS Katowice capsules in 2014 when they could be purchased in-game at 0.25 cents and now costs almost four euro apiece.

In conclusion, you have to speculate on the market, buy only the skins that you like and try to find the lowest price. Figure out when to buy and when to sell and use the Steam Market and other seller’s attitudes in your benefit. And before anyone asks, NO! Money in the Steam Wallet can’t be sent back to PayPal or a credit card. That’s where they stay.

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  • John Stead
    February 15, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    It’s a shame that the drops system changed for the worse on CS:GO, I used to love going afk and coming back to a £5 or so skin, especially when new operations were released. Nowadays you have to play at least 3-5 competitive games to get a shockingly bad £0.03 graffiti.

    Not to mention, everyone is now in the market for profit. Almost every skin has buy orders for profit and trading sites like CSGOLounge and CSGOTrader are full of lowballers or people that will not trade unless they profit massively.

    It annoys me because there is obviously people that have managed to improve their inventory massively, just look at some of these inventories. http://chaos-gamerz.com/expensive-steam-inventory/

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