A marketplace doesn’t automatically make the CSGO model better though, that’s debatable.
You can’t have the CSGO marketplace with skins without people spending money on opening loot crates. The drop rates are straight up awful, you basically have less than a 5% chance of getting anything meaningful, not to mention its “condition” factoring early on market value (and even how happy you are with it).
Blue – 100 items – 79.92%
Purple – 20 items – 15.98%
Pink – 4 items – 3.2%
Red – 0.8 items – 0.64%
Yellow – 0.32 items – 0.26%
At $2.50 a key it takes $1000 on average to be spent on keys alone before a knife drops. You, someone or several people spent that and that is cost you can’t ever trade that back. So for a lot of people, the money they have spent opening crates far outweighs whatever value they get back selling items.
In the other scenario where you can straight up purchase the items. A factory new knife, AK and 3 other skins is gong to run you in the hundreds. You now have several hundreds of dollars of capital locked up in CS for as long as you own the skins. That could be months or years, which impacts you using that capital for anything else in the mean time. A marketplace also comes with risks that you shoulder. The hundreds of dollars you now have locked up in CS are affected by supply and demand. It’s possible prices go up, but just as well, that $300 you paid for your knife could be $200 by the time you trade it, and you lose (spent) $100 all the same.
It’s also important to note that when you buy and sell there are still costs incurred. Sales tax... more significant when you are spending hundreds of dollars. Let’s say you bought $500 of skins, in some states you just paid $50 in tax. If you sell directly through Steam, Valve takes a 5% cut, another realized cost of $25. Even assuming the skin process stayed exactly the same, you just spent $75 compared to the $91+$9 taxes of the elder flame. Also important to note that if you sell through Steam that isn’t cash you drop back in your wallet, it’s Steam wallet funds... effectively just reallocated across Steam. While a little bit more flexible, you still committed the money here for good.
(There may be options I’m not aware of to effectively get wallet funds out but it’s third party, so I’m not researching that for this point)
So in the end, you either spent vastly more money opening crates for a random set of knives and skins that you kept or had to deal with trading. Or, for the sake of comparing numbers, temporarily locked up around $500 for a factory new set of knives and skins +$75 in fees compared to around $100 in fees that someone spent on Elderflame. There’s admittedly a scenario where you gain money if prices increase, but also a scenario where you lose seven more money than the fees if they decrease.