Nick J. January 12, 2021
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has had an amazing winter, racking up more than a million players each day without the help of the game's famous esports circuit.
CSGO’s professional scene has been under fire over the past six months. A promising year quickly headed south as tournaments moved out of packed stadiums and into players’ bedrooms for a return to online competition. But that hasn’t stopped CSGO from carrying Steam to its all-time high for concurrent players. CSGO has passed 1,000,000 players online at the same time every day for almost exactly two months.
November 11 saw CSGO break the million-player mark for the first time since dipping below a million concurrent players on June 2. It marks only the second time in the game's history it has managed it, the first happening on March 1, 2020. And although it took Valve's first-person shooter another five months to pass the million mark again, CSGO has now proven it can exist without riding on its esports scenes' coat tails.
CSGO proves it doesn't need esports to be a success
Competitive CSGO was slammed with scandal after scandal over the fall months. The first blow came after a two-month long investigation by the Esports Integrity Commision revealed that the coaches of some of the world’s top teams had cheated, using a bug in CSGO’s coaching slot to spy on the enemy team. The ESIC banned 37 coaches from competing in the tournamets run by its sponsors: BLAST, ESL, and DreamHack.
Soon after CSGO’s largest scandal since 2015’s match-fixing incident, reports surfaced saying that another investigationsurfaced, this time focused on CSGO’s top teams stream sniping. By the start of the winter player break, many viewers had had enough.
It’s possible that the lack of CSGO tournaments has contributed to the game’s monster two months, but it’s more likely that the game is starting to reap the rewards thanks to Valve’s attention. Prior to the release of Operation Shattered Web, changes to the game’s files showed that Valve wasn’t just creating an Operation, but laying the foundation for CSGO’s future.
Developers quietly switched out or added high-resolution textures to some of the game’s archives, before Fang’s release in December. After years of waiting, players finally got to take a trip back to Aztec with help from Broken Fang and its new map, de_ancient.
Broken Fang also introduced a full stats page discovered by WIN.gg earlier this year. Between what looks like a permanent stats profile and a newly-fixed player ping system that is the largest ever seen in a shooter, CSGO is on a roll, even with the success of Riot Game's shooter, Valorant.
While CSGO is in the middle of a renaissance and enjoying its two months above the million player mark, Valve’s other IPs are also getting updates. Both Left for Dead 2 and Team Fortress have seen content drops and patches recently, and players shouldn't sleep on Dota 2, either. Valve released a new hero for the MOBA alongside the game’s first real content drop in months just last month.
CSGO might not need an esports community to survive, but its success is helping other games survive too. That’s a good thing for everyone.