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Valve brings sprays back to Counter-Strike — and monetizes them

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CSGO players aren’t thrilled with the “Graffiti Update”

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive sprays Steam Community

A new update for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive brings back sprays and graffiti to Valve’s first-person shooter, but not in the way that many longtime Counter-Strike players will remember. Counter-Strike: GO’s version of sprays are consumable items that players can earn from leveling up, or they can be purchased as loot boxes or individual sprays from the Steam Market.

In previous Counter-Strike games, players could add a little flair to multiplayer matches by spraying a custom image onto walls or objects. (Thankfully, players also had the option to turn off player sprays to protect themselves from the worst visuals the internet had to offer.)

CS:GO’s implementation of sprays mostly falls in line with how Valve treats weapon skins. Members of the Steam community can create and upload their own graffiti patterns to the game’s marketplace, and players can sell and trade the sprays they acquire.

There’s one major catch though: Sprays are limited to 50 uses each. From Valve’s CS:GO graffiti FAQ:

How many times can I use a graffiti pattern?

When a player unseals graffiti they can apply that pattern 50 times. Players who unseal a graffiti pattern they already have in their Inventory will receive 50 additional charges to their existing supply.

Valve also outlines how players can earn those graffiti patterns in the same FAQ:

How do I get in-game graffiti?

There are three ways players can get in-game graffiti:

Players have a chance to receive Graffiti as a free weekly drop for ranking up.

Graffiti Boxes featuring art created by Steam Community Artists can be purchased. A portion of the proceeds from sales of Community Graffiti Boxes is shared among the community artists.

Individual Graffiti patterns can be purchased from the Steam Market.

CS:GO players will get their first ready-to-apply, unsealed graffiti pattern for free. Through Oct. 10, players will receive one spray just by launching the game.

Understandably, Counter-Strike players don’t seem to be fond of Valve’s latest monetization scheme. On the Steam discussion forums and the game’s subreddit, CS:GO players are venting about Valve taking what was essentially a built-in feature in earlier Counter-Strike games and squeezing money from it.

"I was so stoked on this update until I saw that charges were limited," reads the most popular post in the GlobalOffensive subreddit. "Like...dude. You don't gotta sneak monetization into every possible orifice you find."

For more on how weapon skin trading, selling and gambling can mean big business — for Valve and others — read Polygon’s feature story.