Over the years, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, or CS: GO for short, has become a global phenomenon, managing to create a cult-following and dedicated fan-base. Developed by Valve and Hidden Path Entertainment, this multiplayer first-person shooter video game was released in August 2012 for Windows, OS X, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, with the Linux version following in 2014.
CS: GO, the fourth installment in the counter-strike series, has managed to draw in over 11 million players per month and amassed a very active competitive scene, with dedicated players from all around the world, with several tournaments funded by Valve themselves.
Valve changed the game to a free-to-play format in December 2018, relying on the income from cosmetic products. Many fans have criticized them for this move. While making a game free can generally be conceived as a positive move, the fanbase saw it as a money-grabbing decision. Because of its rich history of delivering innovative games, fans have high expectations from the Counter-Strike franchise.
History of Counter-Strike
CS has always had a competition between the two teams at its heart – terrorists and counter-terrorists, who have targets to achieve to win a round and receive a point, which leads to the greater objective of winning enough points to secure the ultimate victory.
Upon its initial release, Counter-Strike stood out from similar games with its interesting concept and emphasis on teamwork. Over the next years, CS has greatly impacted how the games of the same genre developed.
The success of CS: GO
After 13 years after the original release, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive was launched in 2012. Being ideal for competitive play has resulted in the mass success and longevity of the game in the esports scene. Some of the largest events in the history of CS: GO has gathered the best players from around the globe to compete for the $250,000 prize, as a large number of spectators cheered them on.
With its competitive nature at heart, CS: GO fans even developed an increasingly popular gambling scene. After Valve made the game free-to-play and increased the number of in-game skins and other acquirable accessories, the fans took to the internet to start trading and later on, gambling with their rare skins.
CS: GO fans started playing live casino games in real-time to get their hands on the rarest, most awesome skins that helped them set their status in-game, and the skin gambling industry grew more and more each year. The independent gambling scene was worth over $5 billion in 2016 alone. CS: GO gambling mainly involved betting on the professional tournament matches, or betting on more conventional casino games like roulette, jackpot, and much more. Skin gambling has become more popular over the years, with other multiplayer game fans quickly following the suit.
So what has made the CS: GO one of the longest-running and most successful online multiplayer shooting games of all time, creating a fanbase so dedicated that they’re willing to travel to different countries just to witness professional tournaments and betting real money to obtain rare skins?
If we take a look at the previous installations in the franchise, there is no doubt that CS: GO has been the most impactful. However, it was built on the basis of its predecessors, accumulating new features and learning on the mistakes along the way.
By the time CS: GO launched, the Counter-Strike franchise had already had a long-running dedicated fanbase of people who grew up playing the games. Getting a head-start thanks to the long-running history, CS: GO then went on to rise on top of its competitors with never-before-seen international acclaim.
Why are fans angry at Valve?
After making the already-successful game free-to-play, Valve certainly accessed a completely new audience. But the players who had been playing the game years prior to that were very unhappy with the decision.
As the player-base grew, the attention from the developer shifted more towards making as much profit as possible, instead of focusing on the quality of the game. Having to pay to access new skins, missions, and adventures, even the most dedicated fans got angry.
Some of the fans even accused Valve of treating CS: GO as a side-project to make more money, instead of spending the time and resources to push the game even further. Needless to say, the CS franchise has garnered an internationally-recognized name for itself. However, if the company continues to piggyback on the game’s name without putting in the effort to make it better, the fanbase will slowly start to decline, making the competitive scene that took years to build completely obsolete.