CS:GO – A Retrospective
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO for short) was released back on the 21st August 2012 by Valve during an extremely competitive time for First Person Shooters. Since this game was released over 8 years ago, and with the previous installments being over 20 years old, what keeps people playing CS:GO?
Going Back In Time
Before we look at how CS:GO began it’s resurgence, let’s understand how it got to its original point.
With CS:S (Counter-Strike: Source) failing to transfer its total player count from the original Counter-Strike game, it meant that part of CS:GO’s purpose was bringing the players to one place. However, the launch of GO did not turn out as Valve expected.
Players that were popular esport competitors or just well known in the community criticised the game for being ‘too easy’ and lacked the skill component when compared to the previous installments. This is a good time to bring up that other shooters (like Call Of Duty) lacked the ‘skill’ element. The Counter-Strike franchise brought skill, smart thinking and intensive quick reactive moments, this is why CS stood out.
As updates rolled out and CS:GO began to age, it’s ‘lack of skill’ developed into a signature title as one of the most skillful games in the scene.
It’s Rising Active Player Count
As more and more updates rolled out and more and more game modes and fun challenges were being released, CS:GO’s popularity really began to climb.
An important factor to note is that during the winter months, CS:GO’s popularity always fell by a proportion. This could be argued that the school holidays had this effect, but another reason was the ‘CS:GO Majors’.
These ‘Majors’ were hosted 3 times a year (now 2), and in simple terms, is the ‘World Cup’ of CS:GO. These majors showcase the eSports scene in a highly advertised amount to the build up of the tournament. These majors consistently grew in popularity gaining way over 20 million hours of total watchtime which led the CS:GO player count to increase.
These eSports tournaments are different when compared with other games. There is something about CS:GO that has great energy to watch, similar to League Of Legends’ big eSports tournaments.
The First Peak
The first peak came around 2016, the same time MLG Columbus 2016 was hosted and is believed to be the reason. MLG brought many fans across from other FPS games, showing what a great attraction to what these games can be. Other popular games started taking notes on how they can incorporate skill into their games like CS:GO did, this is how GO earnt it’s staple.
The energy of CS:GO Majors was like no other, the CS:GO crowd stood out to other games. Maybe the drooling 3 map finals to find that Major eSports title for a team really pulled people in (those who watched Eleague Boston 2018 will know the true greatness of CS:GO Majors).
At this point, the game followed a consistent pattern in its active CS:GO player count. It spiked during the beginning of the year to slowly decline during the winter months. This was the case until the severe decline during 2018, when it was the era of Battle Royale games.
The Era Of Battle Royale Games
2018 saw a huge amount of players playing games within the Battle Royale genre. Games like ‘Player Unknown’s Battle Grounds (PUBG)’ and ‘Fortnite’ began experiencing ridiculous numbers of player counts and because of this, the CSGO players began searching for something new.
During this period, CS:GO entered a state of recession. It’s active player count started dipping below 400,000 players which was the lowest it have ever gone since 2014. Other games started to pop up around, like Apex Legends, also taking these average players of Counter-Strike away.
Everyone knew, however, that these Battle Royale Games would not last, and over time this would prove to be correct. It was a very long decreasing process of the genre, taking over a year to blow over the popularity boom.
During this peak however, Valve had their own trick up their sleeve. Valve announced in late 2018 a new game mode called ‘Danger Zone’, which was CS but battle royale. It was a running joke for many to have a Battle Royale in CS, but this joke became a reality. When players heard the news, they began to try out this new mode which proved itself clearly.
Valve did a tremendous job in the Danger Zone project by somehow taking the skill and intensive gameplay to a completely different genre. With this praise, players began to return to the game after they got that taste of CS:GO with this new and refreshing gamemode.
The Resurgence of Counter-Strike was like no other. You can argue it also came about at a really good time. For the first time, CS:GO’s active player count did not decrease in late 2019, rather, it grew a lot.
Like I said previously, it did strike a bit of luck on the timing of everything. COVID-19 began happening and when many countries began Locking down, players began turning to Counter-Strike. CS saw it’s biggest peak with over a million concurrent players at one time and further growing to 1.3 million active players at one time.
This brings us to today, where the game sits at a stead 1 million concurrent players and the top game of Steam as of typing. CS has brought many achievements and has been industry changing.
This is how Counter-Strike’s journey led to it being a staple in the gaming community and has brought many games we know today. Players will never let this game dismiss into the darkness for one reason; it’s Counter-Strike.
Written By: Max Lang-Orsini