OPSkins Skins Economy

OPSkins: A Year in the Life of the World’s Largest Skins Marketplace

Since its launch in December 2014, OPSkins has become the premier marketplace for buying and selling CS:GO skins. You can find pretty much any skin that has been dropped or attained in CS:GO here (and at a good price too – more on that later). From it’s roster of 6.5 million weapons for sale, to the thousands of daily new users, to the company’s branding, it has cemented itself among the community as the “go to” marketplace for buying and selling CS:GO skins. Despite the site’s black background, the company’s mission is anything but dark – in fact it’s written in a bright white, simple font at the start of the home page.

Born out of the need to eliminate fraud in the online skins trade, OPSkins was developed to serve the ever growing market of CS:GO skin collectors. Before the site came online, users only had two options when trying to buy or sell their guns:

Option 1: They could do it on the Steam Marketplace if the skin was worth under $400, and even then they’d only get funds to purchase on Steam, not real world money. So it was safe, but you couldn’t get cash.

Option 2: They could set up a Paypal account, publish their skin sale listing in forums or online marketplaces like eBay and wait for someone to click “Buy.” This led to many cases where sellers and buyers would get scammed. Users bought a skin, only to receive a weapon with more wear than the one they paid for. Users sometimes accepted a trade and after everything was in place, one of the parties would cancel the trade and run off with the money, or even worse, charge back through Paypal, leaving the other party completely empty handed. Back then you couldn’t really keep any fraudulent activity in check. It was as if someone decided to buy your TV and after you sent it by mail, you’d receive a check only to find out that it would bounce after you deposited in the bank. So you could get cash, but it wasn’t safe.

What could be done to avoid these instances? What OPSkins did – develop a safe third-party website to facilitate trades, where buyers and sellers can’t get scammed. Set up an online marketplace that is not governed by the Steam Marketplace transaction ceiling of $400, yet still communicates with said marketplace and the user’s inventory. Program bots to handle tens of thousands of trades. Set up a payment system for buyers with several purchasing options, let sellers “cashout” for real life money, and create a simple UI. Because sellers receive real life money on the site instead of Steam funds, they often list prices lower than on the Steam Marketplace which in turn creates a better market for the buyer.

Or just cringe at every reddit post filled with outrage about the scam of the day and be thankful it wasn’t you. But I digress.

Photo Credit: ESWC
Photo Credit: ESWC

After the website was launched, it quickly grew in popularity among CS:GO players, reaching 100k users on March 23, 2015, then 200k on April 25, 300k on May 6, and 400k by June 29th. Clearly there was a global and growing market. OPSkins almost immediately began sponsoring streamers and creating partnerships within the community and in July 2015 OPSkins sponsored the 2015 CS:GO ESWC (Electronic Sports World Cup) in Montreal, where sixteen teams from all over the world competed for the $30k grand prize. That same month OPSkins hit the 500k user mark.

After the tournament and with the increasing amount of users on the marketplace who had a variety of payment methods available to them, the site expanded its payment options to include Bitcoin and Paymentwall. Now a person who didn’t use Paypal could opt to buy skins with Bitcoin or PaySafe cards and other methods through Paymentwall. These options expanded the amount of money users could spend on the marketplace, which in turn, attracted more users to the site.

New bots were rolled out in September with the intent of handling increased traffic on the marketplace and improving trade efficiency for the exponentially growing user population and delivered many features that users and the community had requested.

By November OPSkins had 900k users and was fast approaching the 1 million mark. During this month Bitcoin cashouts were also enabled on the site, which meant that users could now get their account verified in order to withdraw money that resulted from their dealings in the marketplace.

As the OPSkins team prepared for it’s first staff Christmas party, they received news of a possible game-changing announcement made by Valve. Escrow had been set to go live on December 9th. The OPSkins development team found a way for the bots to work with the new trade restrictions imposed by Valve and in less than a week had everything under control with almost zero downtime, saving the site’s users from utter chaos if we had not been prepared. It probably wasn’t that dramatic but it’s what my grandchildren will hear whenever I tell the story.

1millionWith the situation averted, the first annual Christmas party went on as planned and when the OPSkins team returned home the site was quickly approaching the 1 millionth user mark.
To celebrate the milestone OPSkins gave away a AWP Dragon Lore. Yes ladies and gents, the benevolent administration gave away one of the rarest and most expensive skins on the game as a commemoration for hitting the mark. Because if it weren’t for the loyalty and support of our users, we wouldn’t have a Dragon Lore to give away.

Now the OPSkins team prepares for its second year serving CS:GO collectors, a task that we take very seriously and will do with utmost devotion.  Here at OPSkins we work every day to live up to our tagline: Easy Skins. Easy Money.

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