Riot fixes 'pay-to-lose' Valorant gun skin that pros forgot to tell devs about

Official artwork of Valorant showing the game's characters in a row
(Image credit: Riot Games)

Riot has shortened one of Valorant's gun skins after learning pro players were calling it a "pay-to-lose" item due to a slight variance in the length of its barrel. The Spectrum Phantom, a version of Valorant's Phantom rifle with altered visual and audio effects, had a nose that poked out just a little bit further than other Phantom variants, meaning enemies would be able to spot you slightly sooner than usual if you were using one.

Now, that might sound like an almost unnoticeable detail to mere mortals like you and me, but to Valorant pros it can be the difference between life and death. A few milliseconds extra warning for an enemy who sees you approaching from around a corner gives them extra and precious reaction time.

The problem was only uncovered during a chance encounter between Valorant associate producer Robin Silk and Mistic, a pro-level player, during the game's Valorant Champions Tour event in Istanbul. During their chat, Mistic happened to mention that he avoided the Spectrum Phantom because of its "pay-to-lose" status, which baffled Silk. To prove his point, Mistic collared a couple of passing pro players who confirmed that the skin was studiously avoided by the professional community. Silk, amazed that the problem was so well-known but totally unreported to Riot, returned to LA and got the problem fixed.

"It was just funny to me that these guys all knew about this and didn't report it to any Rioters," Silk wrote on Twitter, "I encourage all VALORANT players to escalate any bugs they come across to the right channels [...] we really do take these reports seriously". 

It raises the question as to how many tiny bugs like this one end up internalised and avoided by the community instead of being brought to developer attention. How much of the meta of big multiplayer games is just players being more aware of small mistakes than the devs?

Well, regardless, Valorant's pro players can stop sidestepping the Spectrum Phantom now: it's been fixed as of yesterday's 5.08 patch. Riot has "shaved off some length so that it matches the base Phantom weapon model," and is "ready for pros to start using it again… especially when peeking through garage on Haven."

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.