Nick J. December 30, 2019
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive broke another record this month as it logged over 450,000 average players for the month of December.
Valve’s first-person shooter continued its comeback as the world’s most popular tactical shooter this month, cracking the 450,000 average player mark over the month of December. CSGO smashed its previous average player count by more than 35,000. That record was initially set in August 2019. Players have logged over 330 million hours played this month according to third-party statistics website Steam Charts.
While August's increase can be attributed to the attention the game received from fans both new and old during the StarLadder Berlin Major, its new record is almost certainly a direct result of Operation Shattered Web.
Released on November 18, Shattered Web was the first operation Valve released for CSGO in more than two years. Operations are Counter-Strike’s version of unique in-game events, providing weekly challenges and cooperative missions for players to complete in exchange for rewards. CSGO’s last operation, Operation Hydra, ended on November 13, 2017, more than two years prior.
Shattered Web hints at changes for 2020's CSGO
Shattered Web has differed in several ways from Valve’s previous offerings. Most notably, the ninth operation operates more akin to a battle pass than previous operations. Players can completely weekly challenges, moving up the operation’s ladder and earning rewards along the way.
Previous operations in Counter-Strike had a set endpoint. Shattered Web, however, does not. When a player reaches level 100, the entire pass resets and allows the player to continue to earn rewards.
Another addition unique to Shattered Web is the ability for users to simply purchase the stars and their associated rewards for real currency, an option not found in previous iterations of the operations events.
The operation also added the ability for players to use different player models in the game, an option that caused fans frustration when it became clear that the new models gave some players an unfair advantage.
The new models, dubbed "Agents," caused esports tournament operators to ban their use due to their tendency to blend into the background on certain maps.
Casual players, however, are still waiting on Valve to adjust several Agents after the software giant changed the hue of several of them in an attempt to fix the problem.
CSGO Operation's structure hints at possible season pass
The size of the operation’s scope and the stark difference in reward systems hint at a possible shift towards a vastly different CSGO than fans are used to a seasonal pass for Counter-Strike.
A move to a season pass filled with items, skins, and rewards could explain Valve’s renewed focus on the game that fans have felt has taken a backseat to Valve’s other IP, Dota 2, in recent years.
While there is no hard evidence to support a move to a season pass like those seen in Fortnite for CSGO, but such a change would be in line with Valve’s recent changes regarding the company’s Steam Market and the companies focus on remaining profitable as other publishers, like Fortnite developer Epic Games, move in on what was once the sole domain of Valve: game distribution.
CSGO’s Shattered Web has been a resounding success for the company if December’s player numbers are any indication. Between the player numbers and the growth of esports in general, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Valve software are in a perfect position heading into 2020.