Nick J. January 12, 2020
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive reached its highest average player count since March 26, 2016, pulling in over 840,000 players and threatening March 2016's record of 855,485.
CSGO's sudden surge in popularity is explained by several factors, with most stemming from Valve's actions surrounding the game that began nearly two years ago. The changes ranged from a massive economic overhaul to two questionable balance decisions that took months to revert.
CSGO's Shattered Web draws players in
Shattered Web, CSGO esports, and Valve's choice to pivot CSGO to a free-to-play model introduced thousands of players to a game that they normally might've passed over. Operation Shattered Web was the first Counter-Strike challenge event in over two years. The operation brought player skins to CSGO for the first time while lapsed players returned in droves to take part in what is a Battle Pass in all but name.
Valve has spent an unusual amount of effort on Counter-Strike in the past months, but there are few options for improvement unless CS sees more options for monetization and the problems, real and perceived, that come with them
Valve begins large-scale monetization of CSGO
Laws in some European countries require Valve to reveal the contents of cases, called crates, before a player opens one. Once a player "x-rays" the case, however, it can't be traded or sold on the Steam Market. Plus, a user cannot have more than one unopened x-ray case at a time.
The Operation's lean towards what looks and functions like a season pass would actually be good for Counter-Strike, despite the community's generally negative reaction to the idea. While players would now have to spend money on the season pass, Valve and competing developer Epic games have both shown that consumers are open to the idea as long as they feel rewarded.
CSGO's Shattered Web operation comes with its own named case and three new weapon skin collections: the Norse collection, the St. Marcs collection and the Canals collection.
As with previous operations, these skins drop automatically. Shattered Web also comes with its own special case. These require keys to open, sold by Valve for $2.50, not including tax. Shattered Web case skins are a serious upgrade in design from the collection skins, pushing users towards prioritizing opening cases instead of the lower value collections between the third rarest skin from the collection above and the case below.
This small detail signals valves intent to continue this practice, maybe on a seasonal basis. Regardless, a larger player base brings more exposure to one of the oldest esports game franchises in existence. If CSGO continues gaining players, the cries from the hardcore will peter out as they see greater support from the developer.