Valorant's First 'Ultra' Skin Set Is A $100 Investment

Illustration for article titled iValorant/is First Ultra Skin Set Is A $100 Investment
Image: Riot Games

If you looked me square in the eyes and said that you didn’t love the idea of a dragon-shaped gun with funny little arms—a tiny, handheld battle buddy that spits bullets and belches flame—I’d call you a damn liar. That’s the kind of admirably goofy universal appeal resting in the ammo chambers of Valorant’s first “ultra” skin set. The only problem? It costs $100.

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The new “Elderflame” skin set is comprised of four skins, all of which arrive in Valorant’s store tomorrow. The gun is just one of them. So far, Riot has also revealed a flaming knife that, along with the “Elderflame” name, suggests that this set will center around Dragon Stuff. This is Valorant’s first “ultra”-tier set, the highest level of buyable skins in the game. Each ultra skin costs 2,475 of Valorant’s in-game currency, Valorant Points, totaling out to 9,900 for the full set. Valorant Points come in bundles, so, as PC Gamer points out, you’ll have to spend $5 for 475 VP and $20 for 2050 VP if you want to pick up each skin individually. Do this four times, and your wallet will be $100 lighter.

It’s a steep asking price—one that, believe it or not, doesn’t include all the bells and whistles. You can level up Valorant skins by earning another currency called Radianite Points through the game’s battle pass, which costs roughly $10 to buy into. Alternatively, you can just buy Radianite Points in the game’s store, with packs that cost 1,600, 2,800, and 4,800 VP respectively. Regardless, leveling up a weapon skin unlocks new visual effects, so either way, you’ve got to chuck at least a few extra coins into Riot’s cup if you want the full experience.

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Many players are saying that this hefty price tag—more than an entire video game, or several hamsters—actually isn’t that bad compared to Counter-Strike weapon skins, but Counter-Strike prices are often driven by a community marketplace, not a central entity like Riot. And while the Elderflame set is not the priciest video game skins have ever been, $100 (or even $25 per skin, if you opt not to buy the full set) is a lot no matter how you slice it. It is 2020, and for better or worse, funny little dragon arms are the new status symbol.

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Kotaku senior reporter. Beats: Twitch, streaming, PC gaming. Writing a book about streamers tentatively titled "STREAMERS" to be published by Atria/Simon & Schuster in the future.

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DISCUSSION

The economics of this stuff has long been fascinating to me. Because, if you can sell a $1 skin to 100 people, or a $100 skin to 1 person, you’ve made the same amount of money. But my intuition would be that the $1 skin would sell far more than 100 times what the $100 skin does. I would think tons of people would be willing to give an F2P developer a buck for a nice shiny, and that people willing to give $100 would be exceedingly rare. But apparently my intuition is totally wrong and $100 skins sell much better than I’d imagine, or else they wouldn’t keep pulling stunts like this. Which boggles my mind.