How many times have we heard that CS GO is either dying or already dead with no chance of resurrection? How many contenders for the throne of first-person shooters has it survived? PUBG, Apex Legends, Rainbow Six, and others – they all try, but the brainchild of Valve cannot overcome. Global Offensive, despite the assurances of ill-wishers, is now more alive than all the living and continues to gain momentum. At the moment, this is the most popular game on Steam. So, why CS GO is popular?
Wait a minute, CSGO will be almost ten years old this year. The franchise itself exists for more than 20. What happened to the game that over the past few months it has broken its peak online record several times and why is CS GO still popular? Let’s try to figure this out.
The transition to Free-2-Play is the first brick in the foundation of CS GO success
Let’s start with the fact that if CS GO had not become free, then perhaps it would not have been able to get today’s achievements. Many believe that this should have been done at the time of release. However, Valve came to this conclusion only in December 2018. Then, on top of everything else, they added the Danger Zone mode – their answer to the insanely popular battle royale games at that time.
You may not have known this, but for a long time, CS GO was selling for $10. On sales, you could even snatch it at a 75% discount. However, this does not change one simple thing – you had to pay for the game. And no matter how much it would cost you.
There are probably those who will think: “$10? Yes, this is a ridiculous price!” For you, yes, it is possible. However, you forget that most gamers are schoolchildren and poor students. If they earn money, then little; if they do not earn, they live on the means of their parents. Therefore, for them, even $ 10 can become not only an incomprehensible amount but rather an undesirable waste of money. So they go to Dota 2 and similar projects, where all the doors are open for them.
The transition of CS GO to Free-2-Play is useful. Everyone has benefited from this! Imagine, a person watched a Major in Counter-Strike, was surprised by the game of NAVI, and wanted to try to deal like s1mple himself. Previously, he could see the price tag, and his desire would quickly fade. Now, nothing stops him from clicking the “download” button and then immersing himself in the hurricane gameplay of Global Offensive.
Esports is not the only source of inspiration for gamers. They see how streamers play CS GO and how videos are made on YouTube. After all, they see absurdly expensive skins like Dragon Lore and want to see them for themselves. Reasons to try the game can be found enough. And today it is available to absolutely everyone.
Content, Content, and More Content: Welcome Shattered Web
CS GO began its ascent to the top of the Steam charts at the end of 2019. Then in November, Valve released Operation Shattered Web for the game. It was the first operation in almost three years! At the time of the release of Shattered Web, 910 days have passed since the completion of Operation Hydra.
It is clear that the core of the Counter-Strike audience is made up of hardcore fans. They don’t care how many colorful skins or game modes there are in the game. For them, the main thing is that the servers work and cheaters are punished. However, this is not enough to gain millions online. And that requires casual players. They don’t want to play 10 hours a day and take Global. They need fun, and for that, developers need to constantly introduce new content. And so it happened with the release of Operation Shattered Web.
First, Valve added a lot of missions. Achieved goals and received rewards. Everything is simple. Miss one and you won’t have a diamond medal in your inventory. This cleverly motivates players to launch CS GO at least once a week. With this, co-op tasks, maps and a Battle Pass, following the example of Dota 2, appeared in the game. The latter was requested for a long time, so the developers fulfilled this request when the operation was released.
Secondly, along with the release of Shattered Web, a lot of new skins appeared in the game. Weapons, graffiti, stickers – everything is as it should be. However, the main innovation was just the same skins for characters. They were called agents.
The individual coloring of the game character is something that gamers are used to in other online shooters. Take for example the same Overwatch and Fortnite. They have a lot of different skins for heroes, and their audience is constantly interested in them. This has somewhat become the standard for the video game industry, but CS GO woke up later than everyone else. However, better late than never!
And although esports players were not very happy with Shattered Web agents, ordinary players reacted quite positively to this innovation. They don’t care how much their skin blends into the color scheme of the textures, or how much smaller or larger their character model becomes. They want variety to show off to their friends. Agents are an interesting concept that suits their needs. Over time, rest assured, Valve will improve them and find plenty of ways to capitalize on them. And the fans will be pleased, and they will provide themselves with a good profit!
The Shattered Web called players together again and again, and this helped the game break online records. So, in five months CS GO managed to increase its average online by 153%! And there’s nothing to say about peak online … Valve’s shooter has reached the levels that were already inherent in it for the last time four years ago!
How Terrible Circumstances Catalyzed Positive Change – Coronavirus and CS GO
At the end of 2019 – the beginning of 2020, humanity watched the outbreak of the coronavirus infection COVID-19. Many countries began to introduce quarantine, and people began to spend much more time at home.
What did it mean? Gamers have the opportunity to entertain themselves with computer games more often. This was especially reflected in the online on Steam. Players from China helped the Valve platform set its new attendance record. Well, where Steam is always there is CS GO. Therefore, the flow of users had a positive impact on the free shooter, where the Shattered Web operation was just taking place.
Someone started playing CS GO just to kill their free time. They became interested in the game because they were forced to find a new source of entertainment. Someone just started playing more often than before, as now schoolchildren, students and even employees have been sent to stay at home. Someone corny wants to temporarily forget about the problems of the real world and at least somewhere not hear about the threat of a pandemic. One way or another, they were united by one thing – the love of Counter-Strike. And their affection is best reflected in the game’s statistics on the Steam Database.
This is how terrible circumstances led to positive changes in CS GO. Is IEM Katowice 2020 in progress? It instantly becomes one of the most viewed championships in the history of the discipline. New quests for Shattered Web out? The game is played by over a million people. And this, apparently, is not the end.
Competition is the engine of progress: Is Valve worried about VALORANT?
In the fall of 2019, Riot Games announced a new tactical shooter in 5v5 mode. At first, it was called the code name Project A, and then it received the official name VALORANT. The ambitions of the creators of League of Legends are very large. They want to overshadow the success of CS GO and lure Valve’s audience to their product.
Riot Games chose a very effective approach – the company always knew how to sell its project. They made a lot of noise even before the first VALORANT gameplay video appeared on the network. Everyone was looking forward to new details of the game, and their interest was fueled by statements from famous personalities.
So the developers of VALORANT called together well-known streamers, esportsmen, and commentators, and showed them an early build of the game behind closed doors. Most of them were very flattering about what they saw. Among them is CS GO commentator Henry HenryG Grieg. He even said that Project A is the best game he has played since Counter-Strike.
As time goes by, the VALORANT hype continues. And against this background, we can assume that Valve began to worry. First, they were involved with updates, then they released a lot of content with the Shattered Web operation. Are they really worried that the success of the Riot Games shooter will outshine CS GO?
There are two options here. The first one is what it is. Valve really stepped up because of the competition. The second is that they do not care about competitors, as they always did before. Everything that happens with Global Offensive is just a coincidence. And what of this is true, we do not know. Well, only if one of the employees of Valve does not personally answer this question.
Be that as it may, it would still be logical to assume that VALORANT somehow influenced Valve’s approach to the development of CS GO. And even if this is not true, the developers of Global Offensive will still have to compete with it in the future. This will subsequently force them to work harder on the game and more often delight us with new content. Otherwise, Counter-Strike will simply lose most of the audience, and then it is unlikely to be able to gain a million online.
CS GO still has a lot of potential. How many years have passed, and it is still the flagship of the tactical shooter genre. It will grow and delight with new records, but for this, it’s time for Valve to pay more attention to it. Increase your staff, make a plan for at least a year ahead, and follow the requests of your fans. Add more money to the Majors prize pool, after all!
The developers themselves are well aware of what they must do for the further development of Counter-Strike. We can only hope that they do not give up on this and hear the pleas of a hundred thousand fans. And then our community will not be afraid of any VALORANT!