Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has a flourishing market for in-game cosmetic items. Skins for weapons can be earned at random upon ranking up, but the flashiest (and priciest) skins are only found in supply cases, unlocked with keys purchased for real currency. The Steam Community Market allows players to trade their cosmetic items, but there exists a thriving outside market of third parties looking to buy, sell, and trade CS:GO cosmetics, allowing players to bid on items, gamble for items, and lock down that sexy AK-47 skin they’ve been looking at.
The Steam Community Market is the simplest place to acquire weapon skins, as it comes built into the game and is tightly integrated with the in-game inventory system. Players who earn cosmetics upon ranking up or trading with other players can list their cosmetics for sale on the Market, and set a minimum asking price. Then, players who are interested in acquiring those cosmetics can search the Market, specify how much they’re willing to pay for a given skin, and finally purchase the items with Steam Wallet funds, without ever leaving the Steam client. The Market has some limitations, though: the maximum asking price players can set for their items is $400, and there actually are cosmetics whose street value exceeds that amount. Also, a player who purchases a skin on the Market is unable to trade that skin for a week after purchasing; this prevents players from trying to exploit the system or make Steam funds by treating cosmetics as stocks.
Far more advanced is the network of third-party cosmetic trading sites for CS:GO. These websites make money by taking a small amount off the top of each transaction, and they allow players to trade supply case keys for already-opened weapon skins. This way, players are able to ask for, and pay, much more than the $400 maximum Market price for a single cosmetic item. Many rare skins do indeed cost more than that, and some, like AWP Dragon Lore, cost in excess of $1500. Unfortunately, these sites also often come with an exploitative twist: gambling and raffle systems which allow players to try their luck in a skin trading lottery. By buying into the system with keys or low-quality cosmetics, players can hope to loot top-tier weapon skins for their accounts. However, if they don’t win the lottery, the sites keep their hard-earned skins. If a player wishes not to try their luck, it’s best they stick to trading skins on the Community Market.