Valve kicks off $1 million art contest for new Counter-Strike skins

CS:GO Dreams and Nightmares art contest
(Image credit: Valve)

A "finish" is CS:GO’s official terminology for a skin: As defined at, they "can be applied to a weapon and that weapon will have an appearance ranging from factory new to battle-scarred." Finishes can be just about anything, from solid colors to literal fire, and if you've got a cool idea for a new one, Valve might want to give you a whole lot of money for it.

The $1 Million Dreams and Nightmares Content Contest announced today is offering ten prizes of $100,000 each for "original and shippable, dream-themed weapon finishes" for CS:GO. The full rules are here, but the basics are simple: You can work solo or as part of a team, submitted work must be completely original, and all you need to get in on the action is a Steam account in good standing and with at least $5 in purchases on record.

"We launched the Workshop on Steam almost ten years ago in the hopes of creating a centralized hub for community created content," Valve said. "Since then, over five million content creators have submitted and published over 20 million new items for a variety of games on Steam, making them available for purchase to millions of gamers around the world. And, as everyone who plays these games knows—including CS players—many of the most iconic in-game items, maps, and more have been authored by members of the community. The Dreams & Nightmares Content Contest is designed to help further support this community."

For those with an artistic bent but no experience in sexing up digital firearms, the Dreams and Nightmares contest page includes a guide on making and submitting finishes, and all kinds of images, both raw and applies as skins, for inspiration. There's also an FAQ covering more granular questions: You can submit as many entries as you like, Valve does not own the art submitted (entering the contest grants it a non-exclusive license to use the work in CS:GO, but entrants retain all ownership rights), winners will be selected by the CS:GO dev team, and if you're so damn good at making gun skins that you submit more than one winning entry, then yes, you will win more than one prize.

The Dreams and Nightmares CS:GO art contest opens today, and you've got until October 21 to submit your work.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.