We’ve made it past another April Fools day, and civilisation is thankfully, mercifully still intact. Sometimes, though, April Fools jokes have lasting consequences, and I’m not just talking about people losing their jobs after they Google mic-dropped their bosses.
The Counter-Strike economy — which involves highly sought-after cosmetic items and deals in real money — is still a bit shaken after an April Fools prank by popular YouTuber McSkillet (via Game Zone).
See, in Counter-Strike you can “trade up” multiple weapon skins of a certain quality to receive one of a higher quality. The esteemed Mr Skillet (Esquire) posted a believably edited video claiming Valve launched a new “Trade Up Contract” update, in which he said players could trade ten Covert (read: not super rare) rated skins for a random knife. Rare Counter-Strike knives can go for hundreds of dollars. Covert skins sometimes go for an amount of dollars you can count on one hand. Why wouldn’t you roll the dice on that gamble? 30 or so bucks for a shot at winning hundreds? Rare is the Vegas deal that’s so appealing.
Here’s the thing, though: at the end of his video, McSkillet said the whole thing was an April Fools joke. Problem: many people don’t watch videos all the way through. Problem the second: many treat YouTubers as their primary source of news, so they didn’t bother to check the Counter-Strike blog, a news publication, Reddit or what have you to verify whether they’d stumbled into a vat of molten gold or steaming bullshit. Plus, markets move fast. They wanted to be the first to cash in on the deal.
As a result, people suddenly went crazy buying Covert versions of cheap weapons like the AUG Chameleon and the MAC 10 Neon Rider. Suddenly, value of normally cheap items went up. One Reddit user, theesado, collected the resulting Steam marketplace data and put it all into a spreadsheet, in which they calculated that players ended up spending a total of $US53,531.48 ($70,515) more than they would have if the weapons had been at their previous prices.
Those calculations, of course, might not be perfect, but there was a noticeable spike in Counter-Strike marketplace sales in the wake of McSkillet’s video. Prices are only just now normalising again, multiple days later. On April Fools, McSkillet laughed it off. Some players, however, were not so cheery about the incident. “This is a clear case of McSkillet using his youtuber status to trick people into buying red skins and making the prices increase in the steam market,” wrote one irate Steam user, expressing a commonly held sentiment. “I mean just look at the market and search AUG chameleon and look at the price history this is horse crap.”
Others found the incident funny, though. “This was literally the best April fools joke on youtube. I’m still f**king laughing and it’s been 5 days. Send help,” reads a comment on the video’s YouTube page.
Regardless, the lesson here for YouTubers is clear: with great power comes blah blah blah you know the rest. As for non-famous folks, don’t believe everything you hear on April Fools day, and if you suffer a temporary lapse of sanity and decide to carry your unflinching belief in human sincerity into that cynical deathtrap of a day, at least watch/read things in their entirety. In this game of Counter-Strike we call life, the best thing you can do is arm yourself… with knowledge.
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