Riot Games is flirting with the idea of Valorant skins emblazoned with VCT partnered teams’ logos and colours, creating a direct pipeline between the FPS game and the pro scene. Following in the footsteps of Rainbow Six Siege, Call of Duty, and more, Riot is making clear what it wants for Valorant, and it’s a win for all parties.
The VCT circuit is on a crest of a wave in 2023, and like a smart business, Riot Games is capitalizing on it. The developer recently rolled out a Champions bundle at the apex of esports hype during the VCT finals, and as a result, teams took $16 million home. It’s clear players want more esports content – I know I bought both the Champions 2021 and 2022 bundle, and if Riot ever lets us trade, I would be swimming in money. Until then, owning time-limited, rare bundles is enough of a flex.
But VCT-partnered team skins would be more than just a flex. All parties will benefit from the themed weapons, ultimately leading to a healthier esports ecosystem.
Valorant esports skins are a huge part of VCT partnership
If the circus around Riot-partnered teams didn’t make sense to you before, it should now. Being connected to the VCT circuit is no longer a courtesy. Being able to monetize your brand name through a game constitutes a massive chunk, if not all, of Riot partnership’s value and significance. The Global Head of Valorant Esports, Leo Faria, has revealed the perks of being partnered, and having in-game content is one of them.
“The first one is the stipend. We have a lump sum of money that is quite healthy that a team receives for just being in the league. The second thing is a revenue share from in-game goodies. We are also giving teams a big portion of the revenue from their team-branded content,” Faria said, speaking on the Wisemen podcast with former CS:GO pro and Valorant streamer Spencer ‘Hiko’ Martin and esports consultant Rod ‘Slasher’ Breslau.
So, Riot-partnered teams enjoy multiple benefits. For the Champions bundle, Riot granted 50% of the revenue to the team, meaning in 2021, organizations received $8 million just for qualifying. The cut for team-branded content is unknown, but it should be greater than the Champions bundle, meaning partnered teams will have a ball if Riot grants even a 60% cut.
Smaller teams that get into the partnership through the application process will be able to get representation without paying top dollar. Other requirements will be in place, but in-game content will reward organizations by promoting their brand name. For tier-2 teams, it’d be a significant milestone, especially since they earn their slot through sheer skill alone.
More money for Riot, and fun for players
The teams aren’t the only ones to reap the rewards; Riot will be the true winner here. Riot needs an excuse to churn out new skins (and I am not complaining). Partnered-team skins will likely be just variants with no special effects and VFX, similar to the Ace bundle, but players will pay hefty amounts for their esports value, meaning Riot will be swimming in cash for releasing simple skins!
It’s not entirely a bad thing, though. Esports skins are best when they look less. Minimal designs warrant that they remain evergreen. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Major cosmetics are a great example. All branded stickers are simple; at max, they are holographic, and FPS players love them.
While Riot and Valorant pro organizations will surely benefit from the branded content, true fans of the game (me) won’t be left behind. Esports content is always a great idea; it helps strengthen healthy rivalries. By adding skins in the game, players can support their teams while enjoying Valorant. Of course, these in-game rivalries will come with a risk of toxicity, so players should develop a thick skin and prepare to defend their team! You would no longer be a supporter of a bottom-tier team in secret; your skin would scream their name.
Healthier competition and an invested player base will translate to more significant stakes. Consequently, the game will connect directly to a thriving esports ecosystem where storylines take center stage. Plain old Valorant can be seen on Twitch live streams as well. It’s the rivalries that build up the buzz in a pro game.
Riot’s heavy focus on esports shouldn’t be a surprise, as all of this has been brewing since Valorant’s release. Who would have thought Riot would instantly jump into curating a pro scene when the game was a mere embryo? But, Valorant’s first Riot-backed tournament took place three months after the launch, and it was a smasher. A peak of three million viewers pointed to a solid esports ecosystem. Safe to say, Valorant esports will go down in history for the rapid growth of its esports. Fortunately, Riot’s esports model is cut in a way to ensure everyone wins!
While Valorant skin trading is a long shot, hopefully, partnered skins will prompt Riot to work on the in-game store. Until then, though, you can pick up cheaper skins via the rotating Valorant Night Market, which is set to make a reappearance soon.