Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has achieved a serious milestone.
For the first time ever, CSGO has started to consistently beat out Dota 2 in terms of the game’s player count. In fact, according to Steam Charts, the game has started regularly landing in the top spot for the most-played game on Steam.
This comes at a time when CSGO is on a steady upswing while other prominent titles have been on a steady decline. But wlil Valve’s premier first-person shooter be able to maintain its new lofty position?
CSGO’s player base has been generally steady throughout recent years. The game launched in August 2012 and steadily grew its player count until 2015. Its all-time peak average user count came in March 2016 where it enjoyed an average player count of 379,427, with its highest all-time peak coming a month later when the game notched 850,485 concurrent players.
After 2016, things started trending downwards in a noticeable way. The player count went down steadily throughout 2017 before going into a near freefall in 2018. It bottomed out in May 2018 where it had an average player count of 262,171, with its peak in June 2018 hitting just 420,261.
The transition to the free-to-play model in December 2018 resulted in a spike in the game’s player count. Things bounced around from there, but have ticked slowly upwards through much of 2019. Though it hasn’t been reaching the peaks it once did in 2016, CSGO’s average player count has been the highest in its history. As of this writing, its average player count over the last 30 days is 418,689.
Though Dota 2 and CSGO both have long histories as the most popular games on Steam, no other game has hit the profounds heights of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ peak. At its highest point, the battle royale title hit average player counts approaching 1.6 million. Neither Dota 2 nor CSGO have even peaked to that number, much less contesting PUBG’s numerous indidivual peak counts of over 3 million players.
But it seems that the stiff competition around the battle royale genre has devastated PUBG’s player count over time. The rise of Fortnite and Apex Legends has seen players siphoned away by the hundreds of thousands and PUBG Corp. has done a generally poor job of combating that trend. The game still carries high spec requirements and has a relatively high price tag multiple years after release.
Even if those issues were remedied, the game likely wouldn’t return to its highs of 2017.
Though PUBG has been on a steady decline, Dota 2 continues to wildly swing up and down in terms of its own player count. The game hit its highest point in years in early 2019, largely thanks to the wildly popular user-made game mode Dota Auto Chess.
That windfall hasn’t held up over time. The creators of Dota Auto Chess created a standalone version of the game and brought it to the Epic Games Store, while Valve launched its own standalone version with Dota Underlords. Riot Games also created a League of Legends-themed version of the game, Teamfight Tactics, which has seen considerable success and further siphoned away interested players.
While there’s no way to brush off CSGO’s growth and no way to downplay the fact it is hitting an all-time high average player count, the game only enjoys the top spot on Steam. Epic Games does not regularly publicize player counts for Fortnite, and Riot Games only occasioanally speaks to player counts in League of Legends.
Still, this is a great time for Counter-Strike fans and players alike.