Valve's first-person-shooter game title CS:GO has reached a new player base milestone this Saturday, March 14, featuring over 1 million concurrent players - the highest in history of the game.
Officially released in August 2012 as a successor to Counter-Strike 1.6, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive marked the fourth game in the CS series and although many believe CS:GO will never be as dominant as CS 1.6, the newly released Valve's FPS slowly amassed a giant following which did not stop growing since.
Its average player base sat at around 15,000 players for the first 12 months since release and quickly started to boom, reaching the milestone of 100,000 average players in July 2014 and a year later saw its peak player base reach 277,192.
By the end of 2015 CS:GO already averaged 377,447 players and saw its peak reach 823,694 players. In 2016, however, the player base started to stagnate and dropped down to a 329,045 average in November 2016. Throughout the next couple of years, CS:GO failed to continue attracting new players, as the game failed to reach new heights in its player base.
In February 2017, CS:GO saw an average 402,385 players and 744.468 peak players, which was the highest number throughout 2017. It was not until January 2019, however, when CS:GO once more broke the 400k+ average players (401,366).
Things, however, started to change in August 2019, when CS:GO gained traction and saw a 5.41% increase in its popularity, which helped it reach 415,097 average players, with the number continuing to grow in the months that followed. From 426,080 average in November, CS:GO reached 456,701 in December, and in January 2020 broke the 500k average player mark for the first time in its history.
January 2020 and February 2020 were two of the most successful months for CS:GO, which saw its player base jump by 9.74% and 8.54% respectively, which helped Valve's prized game finally break the 1 million player base earlier this month.
Concurrently, CS:GO is averaging 564,229 and 1,001,756 peak players according to SteamCharts, making it the most popular Steam game in the world.
CS:GO is also holding the title of the most played game on Steam, with over 416 million hours played. Dota2 is the second-most popular game on Steam with 692,382 peak players and 299.7 million hours played.
Dota2 already broke the 1 million peak player base way back in February 2015 (1,262,612) and most recently in March 2019 (1,033,925), however, has since seen its player drop significantly since and is currently struggling to draw in more players in a bid to retain its tag as one of the most popular games.
What exactly caused the player base boom in CS:GO is anyone's guess, however, there could be some connection to the COVID-19 outbreak, which ushered many individuals to stay at home and play videogames instead of going out and risk exposing themselves to the new disease. That could also explain the 70% increase in internet traffic in Italy, which is currently the European hotspot of the new virus.
“We reported an increase of more than 70% of Internet traffic over our landline network, with a big contribution from online gaming such as Fortnite,” said Luigi Gubitosi, Chief Executive Officer at Telecom Italia.
Italy is only one of 123 countries infected by the new virus and currently has over 15,000 confirmed cases and over 1,000 confirmed deaths, with numbers rising every day. The country is also in a complete lockdown, meaning individuals are spending much more time at home and ultimately in front of their computers.
Another factor that might contribute to the popularity of CS:GO are also the ESL Pro League and FLASHPOINT, which just recently announced the start of their leagues, featuring some of the biggest CS:GO teams in the world. Clearly, CS:GO competitive scene is not slowing down, however, with the release of Riot Games' first FPS title - VALORANT on the horizon, CS:GO could see its player base drop by a significant margin, as many players will look to dip their toes into what promises to be the next big thing in the FPS gaming scene.