The Value Of Gaming: How Valve Makes $54 Million A MONTH From CS:GO Cases

Leading video game developers Valve Corporation makes over $54 million every single month from in-game purchases. Check out how and why they’re able to here!

It’s no secret that Valve Corporation are one of the heavy hitters when it comes to the world of video games. Founded 26 years ago in August 1996 by Microsoft employees Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington, the company struck gold with their first release, Half-Life and its 2004 sequel. 

These days the company are known for its Dota, Team Fortress, Portal and Counter-Strike series. The latter of these actually began life as a fan-made mod for Half-Life, and the fourth entry in the series, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) has grown to become the leading light of the competitive Esports industry. 

But just how much of a money-maker this game has become for the company should leave your jaw on the floor. Join us as we examine how Valve have reportedly managed to make $54 million every month off of in-game case purchases alone. 

What Is CS:GO?

Before diving into how Valve have wrangled the wealth of a small country out of microtransactions, we should explain what CS:GO is, and why it is such a big deal in the gaming world. 

First released in 2012 as the fourth major entry in the Counter-Strike series, CS:GO is a game that pits two teams of five players on opposing Terrorist (T) and Counter-Terrorist (CT) teams. 

Each game is played over a best-of-16-round format, with rounds lasting two minutes. Terrorists win rounds by either killing all of the Counter-Terrorists or by successfully planting and detonating the bomb at one of two bomb sites on each map. Counter-Terrorists win rounds by either defusing the bomb, killing all Terrorists before they plant the bomb or running the round timer down to zero without the bomb being planted. 

Unlike other first-person-shooter (FPS) games such as Call of Duty, CS:GO’s gameplay emphasises short, calculated bursts of action rather than the all-out Rambo approach casual gamers might be used to seeing. 

Reflexes, accuracy, communication and smart usage of the in-game economy all give the game a huge skill ceiling, which is why its competitive scene has become so diverse and well-represented. 

CS:GO betting at Unikrn has become a popular way of ramping up the excitement for tournaments of all skill levels across the globe, and headline events such as IEM Katowice have begun to blur the lines between sporting competition and entertainment spectacle. 

Since being made free-to-play in 2018, CS:GO has regularly broken past the one million concurrent players count and broke its all-time player record early in 2023. 

Making Money

With the game being completely free to pick up and play, how do the developers make money off it? 

Valve were one of the first companies to really embrace microtransactions in gaming. Microtransactions are purchases players can make, trading real money in return for in-game items. In CS:GO, these purchases come in the form of different cosmetic looks (known as ‘skins’) for the different types of guns in the game. 

They can then list them on Steam’s marketplace and trade with other players for real money. Different skins have different levels of rarity, meaning trading them on the marketplace has become big business for certain individuals. 

For reference, the Blue Gem Karambit knife was sold on Steam for over $100,000.

How Much Does Valve Make? 

So, with a blossoming player base and a potentially lucrative open marketplace – how much does Valve make off of CS:GO cases? 

YouTuber and skin trader Anomaly claim to have the answer. Working off of the calculations by user Fjedjik on the CS:GO Open Market subreddit, he has been able to work out how many cases are being opened and, with his own database and mathematical formula, has been able to work out how much the developers are making off of these purchases. 

Anomaly estimated that between May 2021 and January 2023, a total of 458 million cases were opened by players. Divided across 641 individual days, that works out to 714,509 cases per day. Given that a case costs $2.50 to open, that means Valve are raking in up to $1,786,271.45 every day. That’s $54,355,263.16 per month on average and $651,989,078.25 per year.

This doesn’t even take into account other fees Valve has in CS:GO such as weapon name tags, and doesn’t even begin to touch the surface of what the company makes from its other assets such as Dota 2.