You might have already heard about pay-to-win skins in Valorant's closed beta for the Prime collection, especially the Vandal. This issue has also been recently brought into the spotlight by the stance made by players from the Sentinels team, who believe that certain skins strongly affect gameplay. So, let’s take a look at whether or not weapon skins really impact the game and if, by spending real money, we can gain any advantage over other players.
Are Valorant Skins Pay-To-Win?
So, do skins have a significant impact on the gameplay in Valorant? Well, yes and no. A better player will always win and eventually beat a worse player, no matter what skins they use. However, animations, design, and VFX change our state of mind and confidence. You can see it as a placebo effect, where if you believe strong enough that the best Vandal skins will make you better in-game, they will!
Valorant skins can be pay-to-win depending on the player that's using them. So, what exactly is making Valorant skins more special than others, and are the skins pay-to-win statistically speaking?
What Do Skins Change in Valorant?
Skins in Valorant can affect all audiovisual aspects. The look of shooting/reloading, sounds, finisher animations, weapon model — everything. Even at times, some skins can feel like you're holding a new weapon (especially with collections like Elderflame). There probably isn't another FPS game on the market where weapon skins affect the actual look and animations that much, like with the best knife skins.
Although you may think that you play with an entirely different weapon, this will never be true. All weapon statistics (damage, wall penetration, weight, etc.) and recoil patterns remain the same, and nothing can change them. A weapon's stats and recoil are its most essential aspects, and they determine how the gun actually works, regardless of how it looks or sounds.
Prime Vandal & Its Aimbot
There has been a myth in the Valorant community since closed beta with the Prime Vandal skin making you apparently play better. This, in theory, has even been confirmed in an experiment conducted by a YouTuber named eggwick. He showed an average performance increase of ~18% when using the Prime Vandal skin. A large part of the community also believes that the recoil in this particular skin is easy to control, as the shooting animation allows you to see the exact bullet trajectory. It was this skin that started all these theories that Valorant is pay-to-win and skins make the game easier. Until now, Prime Vandal is one of the most popular skins for this rifle.
That being said, we believe you can gain some advantage by playing with certain skins, but it will be more based on psychological factors than “cheats for ~2000 Valorant Points”. Although all the visual aspects change with some skins — recoil pattern, heaviness, and all weapon stats remain the same, so technically, you are playing with the same weapon. But ask yourself, do you still have the same approach to it when playing without the skin?