When people think about skins in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, nine times out of 10 they are picturing a pristine Factory New AK-47 Bloodsport, or the famous and popular AWP Dragon Lore. They likely aren't picturing something that barely has any paint on it.
But that's exactly what some collectors in the Steam Community have set out to gather. Some say they chase these beat-up skins because it's a different type of collecting. Others say that they find it oddly exciting, digging through pages of Battle-Scarred skins to find the one that was the most scarred.
The truly rare ugly skins, the skins with float values so close to the maximum value they're literally one in a million, are just as expensive, if not more expensive, than their gleaming counterparts.
A Float value is a randomly generated number that determines a skin's wear condition. At the bottom of the scale is 0.0. Guns with float values approaching zero are the cleanest, brightest skins that exist. Some guns have maximum or minimum floats that don't always span the entire spectrum. The difference between a .07 float and a .04 float can be huge, and those three-tenths of a digit can be the difference between a skin that costs $70 and one that costs $100.
On the other side of the scale, the closer the float value is to 1.0, the more bruised and battered it becomes with rare exceptions. Paint is often missing in large chunks while scratches and scrapes appear almost everywhere.
But these beaten down skins can also range in price from the everyday nine-cent Battle-Scarred AUG | Triqua to the $400 Battle-Scarred AUG | Triqua shown below. It's currently the sixth most worn skin in CSGOFloat's database that lists the floats of over 309 million skins.
Sometimes these skins have a special pattern or color on a particular part of the weapon that only appears when the skin gets to a minimum float value.
The best example of this kind of high float item is also the most well know. In fact, many Counter-Strike players can probably name and describe to a T. The AWP | Asiimov might be the most iconic Counter-Strike skin next to the AWP | Dragon Lore and it's also the one that brings collectors into a high-price market most often.
The skin's name, plus its famously bright orange and white color scheme, are both synonymous with CSGO.
That might be why a certain version of the Asiimov is so popular. The Asiimov skin line is part of a unique line of skins that will never drop above Valve's Field Tested wear level, meaning that Factory New Asiimov skins for the AWP, M4A4, and AK-47 models simply don't exist.
With the Asiimov line, high-float hunting is mainstream, and doubly so for the AWP. The Blackiimov is an incredibly rare type of AWP | Asiimov that only exists when the weapon roles a float higher than 0.8. True Blackiimovs are rarer still, as the weapon's float has to approach .99 to achieve its signature look: a completely black scope. It's extremely rare.
While players can always trade up to a Factory New M4A4 Neo-Noir, it's very difficult to trade down to the Blackiimov with any type of certainty. Factory New skins can become indistinguishable from each other the cleaner they are. In fact, that's the point. But with a skin where the main trademark is a black scope without even a hint of white, even a small flake of paint can mean the difference between one that a knowledgeable player can sell for $100 and one like Asiimov shown above.
Anyone who has spent any length of time on the Steam Marketplace has probably seen a sales graph that looks like this:
One reason why users might see a spike like this is because of a market error or an erroneous purchase. Another reason is that someone had sold a Battle-Scarred MP9 | Black Sand for $20.00 instead of the going rate of eight cents. Anytime there's a skin that seems exceptionally overpriced, especially if it's a common skin with a Battle-Scarred float, there's a chance it sold because it was actually valuable.
Thankfully for collectors, they don't have to go through each listing by hand, inspecting the skin's float in-game before pulling the trigger. Today's browser environment provides an entire host of tools that players can use to simply see the floats both on the Steam Marketplace and in an individual inventory. While some simply list an item's float in a player's web browser, others go even further and provide colored tabs, indicators, and rankings. This is an image from a Steam User's inventory that currently owns the title as having not only some of the worst floated skins in the world but more than half of the bottom 20.
All those boxes filled in with gold? Those signal that the particular skin is most likely the worst version of itself in existence. Ever.
If players are interested in using these extensions, they should know that the extensions are active if and when a user signs into Steam on their browser. Those playing around with them should use them with care, and never sign into a website without checking to see if the certificate under the padlock in the address bar belongs to Valve's online service.
If there is one thing that players can learn from Steam's underground skin hunters, it's not how to spot a high float on a PP Bizon. It's that we all need to start checking CSGO's weekly item drops a little more closely than we have been because some of these "trash" skins are worth a whole lot more than we thought.