Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s player count has been on a steady climb for months now and has hit yet another big milestone.
On April 17, CSGO’s concurrent player count reached a whopping 1,298,888. That doesn’t just set a new benchmark for CSGO, it also eclipses the all-time high of Dota 2.
The two Valve-made esports titles have long had something of a rivalry, and have inhabited the number-one and number-two spots on Steam’s most-played games for much of the last decade. Labeling this a rivalry has long been generous however, as Dota 2 has boasted higher player counts and higher peaks than its FPS cousin. The pinnacle of success for both games ran from early 2015 to early 2016, which saw Dota 2 routinely average over 500,000 players and hit peaks as high as 1,291,328.
A major role reversal came in 2019. After hitting some of its all-time best numbers early in the year thanks to the rise of Dota Auto Chess, Dota 2 went on a prolonged skid in terms of its player count. This resulted in a great deal of unease among Dota 2’s fanbase as they wondered if the game might be in an irreversible decline.
At the same time, CSGO went on a bit of an upswing. The game’s player count bounced thanks to the StarLadder Berlin Major, but went into overdrive with the introduction of Operation Shattered Web. Though the de facto battle pass has since expired, the game’s momentum has only grown. It also helped that CSGO had gone free-to-play, the same model used by Dota 2 since its release.
Some of this can be chalked up to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has sparked a surge in the popularity of gaming as a whole, but that only hastened the game’s rise.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is in a great spot right now. Valve’s renewed commitment to the game has resulted in frequent updates tailored to the fandom’s wishes, and the robust professional scene has given fans ample opportunity to engage with the game beyond playing it. All of this was happening before gaining a bump from the coronavirus, and all of this has happened even with new competition from Riot Games’ tactical shooter, Valorant.
While this should be welcome news for fans of Counter-Strike, the game still has a long way to go before hitting the peaks enjoyed by PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Though the battle royale title has fallen on terribly hard times over the last year, PUBG boasts the highest concurrent player count in Steam history, reaching 3,236,027 in January 2018 and averaging more than a million users for seven consecutive months
CSGO may not hit that same high, but it has already proven to be significantly stronger than PUBG in terms of long-term sustainability.