Astralis backs Counter-Strike teams’ request for default female in-game skins

Counter Strike female character skins
Image credit: Valve

Danish Esports Organisation Astralis has publicly backed an open letter posted at the end of last month by its women’s Counter-Strike team, which called for free default women’s character skins in-game.

The original letter was signed by all five members of Astralis’ women’s roster and asked the game’s publisher, Valve, to include a default women character skin to accompany the 29 free male default skins.

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Character skins in Counter-Strike 2 (CS2) are cosmetics that change your appearance in the game but do not affect gameplay. Female and male skins can be purchased for real money, but there are no free female skins available by default.

A week after the open letter, Astralis has decided to publicly back its players. The organisation released a blog post titled ‘Equality both off and ON the server’ which detailed the full support the organisation and its sponsors had given the players, whilst commenting on the reaction from the community.

The original letter sparked a lot of debate with many Counter-Strike fans fighting against it, arguing it was an unnecessary change.

In its blog post, Astralis wrote: “As an organisation and as an employer, but also as human beings, we fail to understand and will never accept this kind of reaction to something that means a lot to some and that does not hurt others in any way or form.”

In response to the open letter, Netcompany, a sponsor of Astralis, showed its support by buying CS2 female agents to give away to fans that supported the demands. The company has since ran out of skins.

Whilst there was pushback from many in the community, there was also support from others, including key figures in the CS2 scene. Anders Blume, a popular caster, posted his take on X: “I have no way to know if adding female agents that are free will attract more female players, super hard to know up front.. But I’ll say this, I used to think the whole ‘representation’ thing was pretty stupid, but for a variety of reasons I don’t really feel that way any longer.

“I don’t know where it falls on the scale in terms of urgency, but I can’t really think of a downside to letting more people see themselves reflected in aspects of the game that are specifically cosmetic in nature. I’m fine with this, [I] don’t know why people are mad.”

The debate has since died down in the CS2 community, but there has yet to be any announcement by Valve on whether it is considering adding default women’s skins to Counter-Strike 2.

Dafydd Gwynn