Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has lost a large chunk of its player base in the second quarter of 2021, according to Steam Charts.
CSGO’s future has been up in the air since the release of rival tactical shooter Valorant, but the game managed to keep steady for several months after. That’s changed since May, with the game experiencing one of its sharpest declines in active players in years, dropping more than 8% in May and more than 16% in June.
The reasons for CSGO’s numbers plunging are abundant.
The online format has marred the visibility and popularity of esports, a category which CSGO has historically been a leader. However, this era has been particularly harsh to CSGO due to the blockbuster release of Riot Games’ tactical shooter. Valorant dropped with a bang in 2020 and with it came tons of speculations about how it will impact the player count of CSGO. Predictably, CSGO’s numbers dipped in the months following Valorant’s release, but the game climbed back in the final months of 2020.
Another big issue with CSGO is likely the lack of a new operation. Once Operation Broken Fang ended, CSGO went back to normal in terms of giving players no real reason to stay active. The return of operations with Operation Shattered Web was a major part in CSGO’s explosive growth in late 2019 and early 2020.
The decline could also be attributed to the recent matchmaking update, which requires players to buy the Prime status to have access to drops and ranked matchmaking. Many players have complained that cheaters are running rampant in CSGO since the game became free to play in 2018. However, the recent buy-to-play update may have forced a significant number of players out of the game unintentionally.
Though CSGO was unbothered in 2020, things are starting to catch up with the game in 2021. Despite a successful start to 2021, the game has recorded a drop of 110,541 average players in the month of June, which followed a tough hit in May. These two big dips were preceded by a plateauing of the player count that ran from February to April. The dip of 16.75% in June resulted in an average player count of 549,347.1, the lowest seen in CSGO since January 2020 which was right at the start of the game’s surge.
The game’s average player count has also declined for five straight months, a first in CSGO history.
While CSGO was expected to decline a bit after a particularly strong 2020, this represents a much greater dip than expected. A big update could go a long way towards fixing this but there’s no sign of anything like this coming over the horizon.