Is Valorant pay to win?

Do weapon skins really improve your play in Valorant?

By Fariha Bhatti


Jan 3, 2022

Reading time: 3 min

Many players think that Valorant might be pay-to-win due to its overpriced skin bundles. But do extravagant skins really improve gameplay in Valorant? 

Riot Games has rolled out over 25 bundles so far. About 28 of them include skins for primary weapons Phantom and Vandal, the two most-used skins in the game. Despite having multiple collections, some dedicated players still stick to one skin they bought months ago. Most players think that these particular Vandals or Phantom “have an aimbot-like feel.” 

Valorant has some of the most over-priced in-game cosmetics, yet players buy them liberally. Those who don’t usually shop for virtual items can’t help but wonder if skins help with aim. We might have an explanation. 

Is Valorant pay to win? 

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There’s no straightforward answer to this question. Skins don’t have aimbots in them, but they might help you land headshots due to their slick feel and lightweight. 

The impact of Valorant skins could be explained through the “placebo effect.” It’s a phenomenon that tricks the brain into believing that something tangible boosts performance when it’s just an artificial stimulus. Research also suggests that placebos work in video games where players might show more interest because a random update has been introduced. This effect might be what’s causing players to believe they’re suddenly ace aimers after shopping for a 2,675 VP gun. 

In Valorant, overpriced skins come with headshot audio, inspect sound elements, and unique visual designs. Investing money into an extravagant weapon and then being rewarded with a headshot audio cue heavily helps with confidence. Pricey skins also have thicker tracers for bullets, which might trick players into believing their shot is more accurate, explaining the “aimbot feel.” 

Lightweight weapons are always best no matter what shooter game you’re playing. Skins like Prime Vandal, Ion Phantom, and Champions Vandal have a minimal, sleek design that adds a lightweight feel. Shooting feels easier when players have expensive skins equipped, which might explain why most players refuse to give up on the Prime collection. 

Audio elements in Valorant skins help 

Spectrum Phantom is another skin dubbed the “aimbot Phantom” by the community. The stark white Phantom has a custom bullet sound created by popular DJ ZEDD, making shooting feel like butter. The skin is currently the most expensive Phantom in the game, likely because of the heavily-furnished sound element. 

The audio effect was also explained in Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory video. Two teams were equipped with identical weapons that had different sound effects. In the end, one of the guns had to be nerfed due to a stronger audio element that helped a player shoot better. 

Do Valorant skins have aimbot? 

In conclusion, skins don’t directly impact gameplay, but they sure trick your mind into believing that you have an “aimbot.”

Most Valorant skins share the same audio cues, so you don’t have to buy every new skin to get a booster. Singularity and Ion Phantom are pretty similar, and so are Champions and Sentinels of Light Vandal. If you have two skins for each primary rifle, you might already have the aim boost you’re looking for.