Game Adjusted To Skins: How CS:GO Chose Its Path


Just recently the map Tuscan was added to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. However, another wave of anger has already risen in the game’s community: some agents merge with the map’s walls, and the game becomes too colorful! How did it happen? CS.MONEY Blog tries to answer this question.

The Style

Since the early days of the Counter-Strike beta, the game has had a very calm style. With faded tones in visuals and real gun usage, players could even take control of actual units’ operatives. It’s no realism, but the game was very mundane. And Counter-Strike Source followed in their footsteps. And Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, but at release.

Now the game’s appearance has changed markedly. The easiest way to track this is by comparing Dust 2 and Mirage. The first map was updated significantly, and the second wasn’t at all. And while both maps share a color scheme, Dust 2 looks richer and brighter. The same trick can be seen in the old and new Infernos. Or both Nukes. The updated maps’ versions clearly show that the development team decided to switch to bright and saturated maps.

In addition to maps, other aspects of the game have also changed: skins, agents, knives and gloves. Everything has become brighter. And there is a good explanation for this.

The Colorfulness of the First Skins

Skins show the shift in visual matters best of all. Let’s take the CS:GO Weapon Case as an example, the very first case, released back in August 2013. It has a total of nine skins, and there are five types of knives. Almost all skins can hardly be called bright. AWP Lightning Strike, Desert Eagle Hypnotic, or SG 553 Ultraviolet are beautiful but not flashy.

The new skins are already brighter

The only exception is AK-47 Case Hardened. Most Case Hardened skins are not very bright, and they fade as the float increases. The gray, gold, and shades of the blue mixture are variegated but not striking. Everything changes when it comes to the AK-47 Case Hardened Blue Gem. Such skins have the most blue and with low floats, and the AK simply shines on the screen.

Interestingly, from Bronwen Grimes’ report at GDC 2014, we know that the binding of brightness to the rarity of skins has been planned by Valve initially. Yet, the reason was not that Valve wanted to raise prices for bright skins and cash in on the players. No, the developers were afraid that players would prefer camouflaged skins. Therefore, bright guns were made rare: pulling a bright skin out of a case will not upset you because it is rare.

As practice shows, the community is much less fond of camouflage and military style and enjoys bright skins with astonishing patterns. Let’s move forward in time. CS:GO Weapon Case was released in August 2013. In August 2018, five years later, the Horizon Case appeared in the game. It had bright skins not only among the rare ones: it also had CZ75-Auto Eco, AWP PAW, and Sawed-Off Devourer, in addition to the AK-47 Neon Rider and Desert Eagle Code Red. These are all bright skins, some of them with a very detailed and colorful pattern. And these skins are still popular.

Agents To Blame Too

Colorful visuals become an integral part of the game. At first, it was expressed in skins, and then it manifests in other aspects of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. For example, maps. All updated maps look brighter and more colorful than the originals. 

In addition to the maps, Valve moved away from the harsh SWAT style evident in the character models. The first agents appeared in CS:GO in November 2019. As with the skins, the development team released comparatively low-key agents in the first batch. This band of brothers had olive and red jackets, only diluted by a couple of bright personalities, like ‘The Doctor’ Romanov. The latter, by the way, has become the public’s favorite.

The latest batch of agents looks much brighter and more exotic! Cmdr. Davida ‘Goggles’ Fernandez with scuba diving gear, Sir Bloody Miami Darryl in a pink Hawaiian shirt, and, of course, Number K. These guys are nothing like the original models. They are expressive and unusual and stand out for their appearance. And they are also popular. Players like it when Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has more style and is less tedious. Following the players’ desires, CS changes its style. Less boring and more bright.

New Emotions

Worth noting that Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is by no means the only shooter that, over time, began to acquire brighter elements. A similar trend can be seen in Rainbow Six Siege, PUBG, and Call of Duty Warzone. Name a popular online shooter; you can most likely add it to this list.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive was one of the pioneers to come up with the idea of ​​making bright content to increase interest in the game. This idea turned out to be working. That is why not only skins but the whole game has changed its style in ten years. By the way, CS:GO recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, so don’t miss our posts on this topic. You can start with five crucial things that never made it into the game.


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