Currently Counter Strike: Global offensive is sitting at the 4th most played game today on the steam charts with a peak user count of 416,106 people. This was not always the case and at one stage the game was considered dead with the previous release Counter Strike: Source being way more popular. Something changed though, after many months of being ignored CSGO released an update that would change the game forever. With the patch release of Arms Release over 100 weapons skins where added to the game bringing with it a large new player base interested in trading on the steam market place and collecting rare weapons to show off in game. This update was very similar to a previous update to another Valve published game called Team Fortress 2, only without the weapon stats being changed. It also added back the silent weapons M4A1-S and USP-S a favorite that players missed from the previous games.
From 2015 CSGO was always battling for first place on the steam charts with Dota 2, that was until it all changed with the release of Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds in 2017 which took over the gaming scene by storm. Counter Strike had been releasing few and fewer updates to the point where it was a running joke when the next update would be released. Mixing in these updates with controversial content also upset a lot of the community making the game less appealing to some. Various maps got removed from the competitive map selection such as Dust, Nuke, Train, Assault, Militia, Aztec, Vertigo and even Dust 2 at one point. Some of these maps got remade while others have had to be remade and had multiple graphical updates. With the release of the 2015 winter update the new weapon “R8 Revolver” was released as an overpowered 1 hit kill weapon replacing the Desert Eagle but has since been updated multiple time and now is rarely ever used except as for a joke weapon.
Two very successful maps have been released while this happened though which includes Mirage and Cache which originally was in Operation Bravo, later brought back in Operation Phoenix and has since been placed on the permanent competitive roster. Both of these maps are small close combat maps keeping combat tight and rounds short. An additional map Canals was released however it did not receive the same welcome and although is still available in competitive it’s rarely played, unlike Mirage and Cache it’s a lot larger and has more corridors which plays a big part in lack of interest.
Cheating was once a huge problem for players in all competitive, community and casual matches and it took Valve a long time to get a good handle on it. CSGO was constantly going on sale for 50% off allowing cheaters to get their hands on multiple copies of the game and send them to new accounts without the worry of having to wait a long time for the game to go down in price. Since March 2016 the game has not been on sale in the US as an attempt to combat this. Additionally to this came the release of Prime Matchmaking which requires a phone number to be added to your account to play others with prime it’s helped curve cheating a lot. Not only did this prevent a lot of cheating but also stopped people buying additional accounts to smurf on or just troll and ruin the game for others. However, over time Valve saw that this a was a negative for a lot of new players and has since launched their trusted match-making which takes in a lot of different statistics and matches you against people the system trusts the same amount as you. You can read all about it in our Matchmaking Trust Factor vs Prime Account post which goes into a lot more details between the two. Now it is safe to say wall hacking, aimbots and spinbots are not as much of a problem as they use to be however due to the time it took for anything to be done a lot of people have moved on and won’t be back to see the results that valve has put in.
With the release of skins bringing the game to life they also removed a large portion of the trading community by adding a trading hold on all items for 7 days to prevent a lot of scamming and fraud going on in the market place. People are where not happy when they needed to wait to trade their skins with other players after years of being able to just fine. Traders where no longer able to make good profits by trading up on better items easily and thus losing interest in the game overall. Along with this, it prevented gambling website betting where betting CSGO items against the house and over players was super popular among the community. Many of these websites had been outed as scamming not just adults but kids out of hundreds of thousands of dollars thanks to the TMartn and Phantoml0rd scamming controversy. After tons of backlash over the months these sites where shut down with this update, some even sent cease and desist letters but some still float around and are used quite regularly.
My prediction for the future is not good sadly, with the latest Panorama UI update they’ve hidden the community servers under more buttons and I feel like this is going to hide the new players from joining community servers and bonding with the people there. Making them coming back night after night to meet their peers who they enjoy playing with but will instead of coming in and play competitive matchmaking on a new account and not get into the game as a new player.
So the reason CSGO is dying has many different factors to it which include the release of new games coming out such as Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, Fortnite and Overwatch. Lack of updates or operations overtime to the point where people are constantly asking for a new one since it’d been months since the last content update. Cheating was not dealt with in a timely matter and by the time they got it right many players had already left. Trading holds made a lot of the community lose interest who were more into the trading and skin market part of the game instead of playing the actual game.