Nick J. February 9, 2020
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive broke its own concurrent player count record on February 8 with 876,575 players. The previous record was set in April 2016 during the MLG Columbus Major, which hit a peak of 850,485 players.
While breaking the record is big news for Valve's flagship shooter, it's not unexpected. CSGO has steadily grown since August 2019, in large part thanks to the introduction of Operation Shattered Web.
Operation Shattered Web has given players strong incentive to log into the game regularly. The battle pass approach to the game tasks players with fulfilling weekly missions in various game modes for rewards such as stickers, gun skins, and Agent models. On top of this, the launches of a number of high-profile professional CSGO have given players plenty of reason to be interest in the game while the 2018 transition to a free-to-play model removes any barrier to entry.
CSGO wasn't alone in enjoying above-average player counts. Dota 2 and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds also saw bumps in their concurrent counts, but Counter-Strike's growth is on a different level. Though Operation Shattered Web is set to wrap up in a few weeks, all signs indicate Valve will continue utilizing a battle pass approach to the game.
Another factor in CSGO's increase is the increasing difficulty of Shattered Web's challenges. While easy for veteran players, challenges like this week's "Plant, or do it the Hard Way" require time and effort from the majority of CSGO's players. For those new to the game and unfamiliar with its mechanics, they're a challenge.
Only time will tell if Counter-Strike can keep up its surging growth and break the million-player mark. With the consolidation of its tournament circuits and Valve's increasingly frequent updates, Counter-Strike has the potential to do just that for the first time almost eight years after its launch.