Over three years ago, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive saw the release of the MP5-SD Lab Rats. Not exactly the most amazing skin for not exactly the most sought-after gun was the MacGuffin of a little drama in the community. Today, the CS.MONEY Blog explains what happened and what lessons the story offers.
History of the MP5-SD Lab Rats
The vast majority of weapon finishes in the game share the same basic properties. They belong to a certain collection, fall into some rarity category, can be crafted or used for crafting, and are created by either an artist or a whole team from the Workshop. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. One such exception is the MP5-SD Lab Rats.
This beauty has a whole bunch of features. First, you can’t use it in crafting. The skin belongs to The Blacksite Collection that contains no other skins besides the MP5-SD Lab Rats itself. Second, you can get it for playing Danger Zone and having a Prime account. It comes bundled with a sticker that depicts a logo of the map Blacksite. Last but not least, the skin made its way into the game but directly from the devs at Valve rather than from the Workshop. Bottom line: a most curious specimen.
Release, hype & patterns
The skin dropped on December 6, 2018, together with the release of the new Danger Zone mode and the transition of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive to the free-to-play distribution model. Notably, all Prime status holders could get an MP5-SD Lab Rats for a couple of matches in the new mode.
Nevertheless, part of the community thought the item posed a good investment opportunity. This applied specifically to a few specific red rat patterns, rather than to all MP5-SD Lab Rats. Around five patterns were quickly categorized as ‘valuable’: 514, 510, 835, and a few more.
In the wake of the hype and excitement, some players invested in these ‘rare’ patterns in order to resell them. It all seems to make sense: a new finish for a new gun with a rare pattern — here it is, a regular gold mine! But it was a trap.
What’s the problem with the MP5-SD Lab Rats?
After its release, the skin was worth at least a dollar; now, it’s worth five times less. No one even mentions these rare patterns at all. What’s the reason and where exactly were the investors at fault? We’ve identified three reasons.
The first one is a delusion of demand. For starters, the MP5-SD Lab Rats is easy to obtain. On top of that, it’s for a non-meta gun. Even among submachine guns, most players will prefer the MP9, MAC-10, UMP-45, or the MP7 to the MP5-SD. This isn’t the AK with only two skins cheaper than a buck! The MP5-SD is an unpopular gun that no one’s going to use in every round.
Second reason: belief in rare patterns. The idea that you can equate ‘rare patterns’ with ‘high value’ is fundamentally flawed. The community has already fallen into the tempting trap of rare patterns once with the XM1014 Seasons, only to repeat the same mistake with the Lab Rats. Rare patterns in themselves are worthless as long as there aren’t a lot of people around who want them.
The third reason: inflated expectations. Many skins in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tend to get more expensive over time. However, the MP5-SD Lab Rats is not one of them. Since its release, the price of the finish has been steadily dropping until it bottomed out at around 20 cents per Factory New copy.
Even though the price tag fluctuates sometimes, we only have to mention the five-fold drop in price again for simplicity’s sake. The price has settled at this level about three months after the skin popped up. Everyone who failed to sell it over this time faced terrible losses. A dreadful situation: the only way to ‘win’ in terms of investments with the MP5-SD Lab Rats is simply not to deal with the skin. To more experienced traders, it was obvious from the start.
Moral of the story
The MP5 Lab Rats is a striking example of how rash actions can lead to losses. Fortunately, few people in the community decided the skin was worth investing in and fell into its trap. But that’s not the only case where hype caused people to do foolish things.
In addition to the aforementioned XM1014 Seasons, we can also cite the scandal around the Galil AR Vandal and the complaints concerning copyright infringement. Over the two days that intervened between the complaint and the temporary removal of the skin from the Workshop, the price of the skin rose almost three times! Eventually, the accusations turned out to be unfounded, and the price went down to the pre-Scandal values. Hunters for the ‘new M4A4 Howl’ lost at least a buck on every Factory New copy!
Bottom line. If you want to invest in skins, your emotions shouldn’t be your only guidance. The MP5 Lab Rats situation followed the XM1014 Seasons scenario, and the Galil AR Vandal, in turn, followed the M4A4 Griffin scenario. Those possessing the right information were able to draw conclusions and avoid unnecessary losses.
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