20 years ago, Counter-Strike fans played their first games on what are now some of the most famous maps in gaming history. Dust 2, Inferno, and Vertigo each celebrated two decades of play this weekend.
On March 13, 2000, CS 1.1 was released, and it looked little like the modern first-person shooter that over 1,000,000 players will log into today. Player models looked very different, and players still had to buy ammo at the start of every round. But these three maps were already present.
Dust 2, Inferno, and Vertigo made their way into Counter-Strike for the first time with the update, and the maps have been around in one form or another ever since. The maps were originally only available privately, but their exploding popularity meant that Valve had little choice but to make them official. Soon after 1.1’s release, the developer added the maps and cemented them as a part of 20 years of CS gaming.
Out of all of the CS maps, Dust 2 is still the most popular by far. According to stats taken from Valve’s matchmaking servers, a third of all players are currently locked into games on the desert map. Another 13% have queued into Inferno, while others still are attempting not to fall off Vertigo’s towering skyscraper. Combined, nearly 50% of every player in matchmaking were in a game on one of these three maps.
Interestingly enough, Dust 2 isn’t even close to the top map played out in CSGO’s professional scene. That honor goes to the one map hasn’t received a full makeover from Valve. Pros have played over 17,000 games on Mirage, good for the number one spot. Inferno ranks number two with 15,263 games, and Vertigo came in last out of all maps tp make at least 50 appearances in pro play with just over 2,000 matches.
Valve has remastered all three of the famous maps in CSGO since the game’s original release in 2012. The overhauls brought upgraded shadows, graphics, and sounds to what has turned into one of the world’s most popular shooters. But the developer has left the vast majority of CSGO’s gameplay intact, a testament to how simpler can be better.
While fans don’t know if CSGO will be around forever, everyone is pretty sure that Dust 2 last until the end of time.
CSGO isn’t just popular in 2021, it’s growing. Player counts for the game peeked in April 2020 and have maintained steady at over 1,000,000 players online at once this year. In total, players have logged more than 550 million hours inside Valve’s shooter. By comparison, Dota 2 players have tallied 295 million hours in-game.
CSGO went free-to-play in December 2018, kicking off a surge of players heading in-game to check out the tactical first-person shooter. While the game is free for everyone, CSGO also has preferred matchmaking through it’s Prime status upgrade. The upgrade will costs players $14.99, but Valve says that the Prime upgrade matches players with others who have put down the money.