Most of us may lack the cybergoggles necessary to jack into Half-Life: Alyx today, but we can carry a bit of Alyx over into Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Over the weekend, Valve added new Half-Life-y stickers to slap on guns, patches to slap on uniforms, and badges to display in your profile. Some of them are cute! Unfortunately, they're obtained through nasty little loot boxes - and these are not cheap. And surprisingly, the new cosmetics don't include a new glove skin of HL: Alyx's gravity gloves, something many had expected.
As Valve note in the announcement, folks who bought an Index kit before Alyx's launch get an extra-rare version of the Alyx Pin and a Music Kit. Everyone else is paying for everything.
For 85p, you can get a random sticker (yes, of course there are rarity tiers). As with other stickers, you can pick from a few placement spots on a gun and scratch them up a bit. I opened my Steam Wallet and made my gaudy Five-Seven even weirder:
For £1.50 you can get a random patch to slap on the uniform of any Agent you own. I did not buy one of these because the sticker was as far as I was willing to go to inform this post.
Then for £8.65 you can get a random Collectible Pin to display on your profile. Chuffing £8.65! For a little mark appearing by your name on the leaderboards!
It's wild that Valve can sometimes be so far ahead and othertimes so far behind. They've had battle pass system in CS for ages but are still selling loot boxes for cosmetic doodads. Battle passes aren't a perfect system, of course, but they're usually less cruddy than loot boxes. Or an item store where you pick what you get, that's another option for helping fund a free-to-play game. I suppose having the Steam Community Market feeding Valve a percentage of second-hand sales means they're more invested in artificial scarcity and randomised items than other developers. It's still sometimes outrageous.
And not having a new glove skin like Alyx's new gloves seems a weirdly missed opportunity for a cool tie-in.