VALORANT Is Releasing $138 Weapon Skins

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valorant weapon skin
Image: VALORANT (YouTube)

If you were ever wondering how exactly Riot intended to make bank on VALORANT, here’s your answer: skins that cost over $130.

Riot Games announced the first cosmetic for their free-to-play shooter overnight, unveiling the first set of dragon-inspired weapons. It’s called Elderflame, and the guns, quite literally, look like you’re holding a young, moody dragon.

It’s a little reminiscent of Symmetra’s dragon skin from Overwatch, although the weapons here are a little more interactive. There’s a knife, a replacement for the Vandal, what looks like a dragon version of the Judge shotgun, a replacement for the Operator, and a new Frenzy (the fully automatic machine pistol).

It’s the first Ultra Edition skin in the game and, as you’d expect, the pricing is astronomical. Skin prices in VALORANT were already pretty high, but the Elderflame is reaching into almost absurd levels. Joe Lee, the revenue lead for VALORANT, posted Thursday morning that the price point for the four Elderflame skins — meaning one of the skins would comes free, presumably the knife as per the existing skin packs — would be 9900 Valorant Points (VP).

In Australian dollars, the whole skin line will cost you at least $138. That’s because you can only buy up to 9750 VP at a time, meaning you have to pay $129.99 for 9750 VP, and then another $7.99 for the rest of the points you need.

valorant skin
The Valorant store page on the Australian client. Image: Kotaku Australia

It’s not the most people, Australians or otherwise, have paid for virtual skins. But a lot of that price has been inflated by the machinations of the secondary Steam market — developers haven’t traditionally charged such insane amounts for cosmetic items, certainly not in Western games.

If you just wanted to buy the skins individually, the price would be about $39 — because you’d have to buy 2175 VP points at $30.99, then 525 VP points at $7.99.

That’s crazy.

And it’s only five skins: there’s no skins for the other popular weapons like the Phantom assault rifle, Ghost or Sheriff pistols, or the hilariously annoying light-machine guns.

The bundle will be live in the VALORANT store from July 10, possibly July 11 Australian time due to timezones differences.

Please do not spend $130-plus dollars on virtual items. Especially in the middle of a global recession. The game’s plenty of fun with the regular skins.

Comments

  • This is some seriously bullshit price gouging. They know people are going to pay not because they want to, but because they feel compelled to.

    • ‘People’ are going to feel ‘compelled’ to splash $130 on a skin? What’s the psychological imperative behind that? In what way are people being manipulated into paying more than the price of a new AAA on a purely cosmetic skin here?

      Seriously, as a game collector I’d like a copy of every AAA on the shelf of EB Games but I’m not forced to buy a single one simply because I find the idea attractive and they’re sitting right there begging me to buy them.

      This is fundamentally different from EB having a big lucky dip of hundreds of games wrapped in a pile out the front for $10, a couple of which are The Last of Us Part II.

      • This isn’t even a new idea and game companies do it because it works and makes money.

        The game industry relies on FOMO and people who feel obsessive need to collect things as money pits. That’s why loot boxes have 5-10 boring items for each desirable one. It’s why you can get multiples of the same item in a lot of games. It’s why games keep pushing out more and more cosmetics. It’s like Pokemon, but designed to drive engagement and personal investment, then monetised to exploit that investment for cash.

        I agree it’s fundamentally different, at least that’s a product with a specific number of outcomes based on the physical presence of an item. It’s an item that can be acquired and owned without an ever growing “set” that can never be completed without large amounts of recurrent spending. These practices are carefully gauged skinner boxes to entice people to spend more and more money. Just because they don’t work on you doesn’t make them ethical.

        • I’m just not clear how paying $130 for a known item with absolutely no gameplay benefit fits with the rest of your argument about skinner boxes. Your argument here just reads as cynicism.

          And it’s not like Pokemon. Having all the pokemons offers gameplay benefits. Furthermore, it’s practically impossible to collect all skins, there’s no easy way to display all skins, there’s no achievements for owning all skins, and the only way anyone else will notice your skin if you’re actually playing with it on. Seriously, where’s the extra incentive other than it just being nice to own something nice to wear, just like buying a designer t-shirt or pair of sneakers.

          I can’t see any particular reason in this case why pretty much everyone is just going to buy the skin they most like the look of and then move on with their lives. And if that’s the last skin they ever buy, it’s actually no more cost to them than it would have been paying full price for the collector’s edition of the game at EB Games on launch day, and certainly less than paying monthly for a WoW subscription for a year or more.

          And it’s not why loot boxes have 5-10 boring items for each desirable one. Loot boxes have 5-10 boring items for each desirable one because the company is trying to pretend that in exchange for your cash you are getting a whole bunch of stuff, when the reality instead is that all you’re doing is spending a crapton of cash hunting one or two chase items.

  • People spent $130 on shitty skins all the time rolling loot boxes. This just makes the process entirely transparent and I really can’t see how anyone can genuinely have a problem with this.

    Devs of free to play games gotta make bank somehow, and this way is a hell of a lot less manipulative than sucking kids with a poor grasp of statistics into spending similar amounts rolling a 1% chance on a spinning roulette wheel.

    If a certain percentage of high worth individuals want to help fund development of my favourite game who am I to stop them? It’s not like they’d not otherwise be blowing the same wads of cash taking baths in Veuve Clicquot, or badly decorating their mansions.

    • The problem is that this would’ve been utterly outrageous even a few years ago. But the industry has a history of pushing things way too far, pretending they’re sorry for their actions and then implementing something that’s only 80% as bad. then in two years, it implements something worse, pretends to be sorry and implements the thing that was outrageous two years back. But this time people defend it because it’s not as bad as the latest problem.

      Do you remember the horse armour fiasco? That shit is not only acceptable now, it’s both expected and defended by consumers.

      • You can’t just look at the price though and screen ‘exploitation’. Let’s be clear that these are free to play games and that free to play games, not free to make games.

        If you’re going to argue that publishers should just be selling games at an up front cost and nothing else then let’s have that conversation instead.

        Nonetheless, FTP games do offer distinct advantages to all players, particularly in terms of the low cost of entry (zero), the ability to test the entire game as an unrestricted demo, the ability to keep matchmaking queues full of players, and the ability for devs to fund a ton of ongoing content over many years.

        All these benefits cannot happen if devs are forced to make their money from, what? $3 premium skins? At what price level would you personally become satisfied, while still allowing the devs to fund ongoing development of the game while ensuring that players continue to get all the benefits that mean that FTP games are far and away the most popular games, with the greatest and longest longevity, being played today.

        • Sorry for the garbled first para, let’s try.

          You can’t just look at the price though and scream ‘exploitation’. Let’s be clear that these are free to play games, not free to make games.

  • “Please do not spend $130-plus dollars on virtual items. Especially in the middle of a global recession.” I’m no economist but isn’t a recession caused by exactly that? People not spending their money on things?

    • No, recession is caused by two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth, which is largely fuelled by millions people finding themselves in unemployment and unable to pay their rent or utilities without support.

      There’s better ways to support an economy – particularly the Australian economy – than buying skins.

      • My comment wasn’t meant to be a serious suggestion for reinvigorating an economy in recession, I too find it ridiculous to have cosmetic items priced that high. It was meant to be a tongue in cheek observation of the fact that a lack of spending by people results in unemployment and recessions which is why one solution is stimulus packages to encourage people to reinvigorate local economies.

        But like I said, not an economist so I don’t fully understand the nuances of macroeconomics, just what I read in online articles.

  • And apologies for flooding this thread, but I take issue with the claim in the article that:

    It’s not [that] most people, Australians or otherwise, have paid for virtual skins. But a lot of that price has been inflated by the machinations of the secondary Steam market — developers haven’t traditionally charged such insane amounts for cosmetic items, certainly not in Western games.

    In fact, the insane price of cosmetics on the secondary market is almost entirely a consequence of scarcity. It’s been calculated that the chance of any sweet GS:GO gold stat track item dropping from a weapon crate is approximately 0.3%, and that’s any item, most likely not the one you’re actually looking for.

    Gambler’s fallacy and all, but pulling enough $1 crates to get your odds fairly close to 100% for even one random gold stat track to drop is going to set you back over $300 right there. So anyone chasing a particular item has a choice of rolling crates until they’re blue in the face, or just shelling out the few hundred dollars they would almost certainly have had to pay anyhow for the item they actually want, guaranteed.

    • Sorry for spamming you with replies, but I feel like you’re missing the bigger picture here. That scarcity isn’t some set-in-stone thing. It’s not a lack of resources or lack of ability to produce the item. It’s an entirely artificial scarcity designed to drive artificial demand and push people into normalising greater and greater costs for things that are just in-game textures that cost practically nothing to manufacture infinitely.

      Go one step up from the consumer and think about the business behind it. This is a specific attempt to get more money out of people by pushing the envelope of acceptable business practice by millimetres over years.

      • You appear to be arguing with me as if I am somehow supportive of the loot box business model. I am not.

        The only argument being made in the post you are replying to above is that shitty premium skins actually cost a shitton of money, and the only reasonable way to price them accurately is not on a single box basis but on the basis of how many boxes you are likely to need to open in order to get one. (And that this cost is reflected in how these skins are priced on the secondary market.)

        Manipulating someone into potentially rolling $300 of loot boxes on the basis that the chase skin you are looking for is actually $1…. then another $1…. then another $1, and so on, while still potentially not getting the item, is very significantly different from simply telling someone up front that the cost of the skin is going to be $300.

        And yeah, at the point where someone sees the $300 price point instead of the $1 price point, a hell of a lot more people are simply going to walk away instead of essentially being scammed into continuing to make micro purchases that add up to macro purchases by gambler’s fallacy, sunk cost fallacy, and dozens of other manipulative psychological tricks.

        • I don’t think he’s arguing that you believe loot-boxes are ok. I think he’s arguing that developers are recognising the “social anxiety” of not purchasing the items, and are gradually increasing the cost – for arguably little gain. Bundling them together only compounds the psychological effect, along with “rarity” and “OG” indicators and “Limited Time” labels.
          While this is far more transparent act than loot boxes, it’s still not a good thing. Skins were $5, then $10… etc, now looking at $30+.
          I get that you don’t see why people are “compelled” to buy these things for no gameplay advantage, but this is a direct response to the pay-to-win pushback and it plays on people for who this tactic works. Otherwise, why would they not _always_ be in the in-game shop?

  • I think the title is a little misleading. The skins are $39. The set is $138.
    That said, near $40 for a skin is ridiculous. I get that they have to make money, but I feel this preys on people who become psychologically attached to these processes.
    I thought a skin in Fortnite for $15 is at the top end of price. A weapon skin at $40 is high. And the fact that you can’t buy them within a single rounded purchase tier of in game currency is not cool.
    IMO, it’s not only the community that is toxic here.

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