Will CS2 work as an upgrade?

By William Davis


Aug 24, 2023

Reading time: 3 min

Valve has a habit of quietly or suddenly dropping big news, which is what was done with the announcement of Counter-Strike 2. But after waiting for Source 2 for so long, CSGO fans weren’t as surprised.

However, many were still caught off-guard with the news that it would be a free upgrade to CSGO rather than a full new title.

A brief history of CS

Newer generations of CS players can be forgiven for thinking that CSGO is the first entry in the series, given that it was released over ten years ago and effectively made the competitive scene into what it is today. Long before CSGO there was Counter-Strike: Source, and then we got to Counter-Strike, which was just a Half-Life mod.

Part of the series’ endurance despite rare releases is that, apart from some new graphics upgrades, the game has remained fundamentally the same, with the majority of maps and weapons remaining roughly the same across the decades. It means that other than with a few secondary features, players can’t be put off by big changes between titles in the way we see with Call of Duty games or any of the major fighting games.

The soon-released Counter-Strike 2 takes the series onto Valve’s new Source 2 platform and, being the first main release in over a decade, is set to have a major upgrade in visuals and quality-of-life upgrades with load-outs and servers.

What’s the plan for CS2?

Likely towards the end of summer 2023, all Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players will receive a free upgrade to bring their game up to Counter-Strike 2. It won’t be an optional upgrade, so CSGO itself will effectively cease to exist on the same day.

This is a strategy that has most famously been used recently by Blizzard with Overwatch 2 to mixed reception at best. That team shooter has seen an exodus of fans since the ‘launch,’ with issues on the technical side as well as a perceived lack of content or originality and the idea that the game is more like a DLC than a full sequel.

Counter-Strike 2 major

The case with CS2 should be different from the start. Valve has upgraded the game infrastructure and visuals but left the core game untouched, and  Counter-Strike players aren’t looking for massive innovation or big sweeping changes. Also, because the fundamentals of the game will remain the same, things like cosmetics and skins, a massive part of the original game economy and often worth thousands, can be carried over to the new version so there’s no loss to players.

Will the CS2 launch go smoothly?

The catastrophic launch of Overwatch 2 is likely to be still hanging over esports developers and fans alike, and Valve, in particular, will have learned from the example. No multiplayer game launch in the last decade has come without at least some issues, and in this case, there is no older version fans can go and play in the meantime while the bugs get rooted out.

Valve should lead with plenty of player bonuses and extras around launch time to make up for any inconveniences. Rarely has anything free ever gone down badly, and that’s not just true of gaming. In the online casino industry, for example, something that has been long-linked to the world of Counter-Strike, giving out extras like bonuses or free spins is a tried and tested method to keep players happy. Whether it’s attracting new customers, rewarding the loyalty of dedicated players, or simply marketing the heck out of a sponsored game, the promotions work to increase reach. As with casino sites, giving out one-time launch extras, such as limited edition skins or player titles, has been proven to work well with cases like the relaunch of Rocket League.

In the end, there will always be a subset of fans crying doom over any new version of a long-standing game, but so far, all the signs are promising for CS2. If they can keep the formula of the game intact, patch up some of the less pleasant parts of the older version, and throw in some freebies and extras for good measure, there’s no reason to believe it won’t be a hit with fans.