CS: GO was first released in 2012 and had less than 1,000 average concurrent players at its lowest point. At some point, the game exploded, and its popularity and growth have been intertwined with the esports scene in general. CS:GO has one of the biggest competitive gaming scenes on the market, with some superstar esports athletes playing in huge tournaments for potentially millions of dollars in prize money.
In 2023, Valve has moved to modernize the game and people are rushing to explore the sequel, already used in some competitive esports tournaments. The new CS2 is available in Beta for anyone to play now, and the plan is for it to quickly take over from the original game, even in tournaments and competitive play.
CS2 is not so vastly different to playing CS:GO that you’ll feel like you are learning a brand new game from scratch, and those who have played CS:GO to a high standard are likely to be able to make the transition relatively easily, but at the very elite level of esports, just a few percent drops in performance can make all the difference.
Gambling is one of the key ways that esports generate revenue. CS:GO already has tens of thousands of people betting on the big events, and Counter-Strike 2 betting coverage could be as big, or even bigger. The popularity of CS2 will play a big role in determining the coverage levels offered by esports gambling companies.
If you’ve played CS:GO and moved over to CS2 it isn’t going to be like playing a whole new franchise. Most of it is the same and players can use the skills they’ve worked on through years of tournaments and online play. However, we don’t know how teams are going to change, and the odds of upcoming tournaments could be tweaked. They may change drastically when teams show how well they have adapted to the new game or if a new upstart proves to be an ace at CS2.
Some players and teams may take to the new version of the game more quickly than others which means that there could be some long shots winning in future tournaments. It is also possible that the speed the game is played, and the new responsiveness features mean there could be more opportunities for in-play and live betting on CS2.
If CS2 proves to give the Counter-Strike gaming scene a big boost, it is almost inevitable that there will be more markets on offer, and even more tournaments for potential gamblers to follow and wager on. The more popular an esports scene becomes, the more it tends to be covered.
Even CS:GO’s best players can’t rest on their laurels with CS2 coming out. Changes to the game may come in the form of tweaks, and CS2 is not going to be a massive overhaul of the game, but there are some significant alterations. One of the most notable changes comes in the form of Valve’s reworked MR12 match system which will make the games shorter, as teams now need to win a total of 13 rounds in the game to win, down from 16.
This could give players more time to rest between matches and it is also a way to help them with their concentration. Perhaps the teams who struggle in the later rounds may find this is favorable to the way they play.
MR12 also means the players will have to manage and keep an eye on their economies closer and make some other tactical changes to stay at the top of the game. In August, MR12 became the default setting for games played online in practice mode.
Another change relates to the tick rate, which helps to dictate the responsiveness of the game and could change the immersive, live experience of tournament play. Servers can be much faster in CS2.
Some of the other games that have been part of the esports scene for a long time will look at Valve’s development of CS:GO and the way they are innovating and bringing the game into a new era. Other huge esports games like Valorant, PUBG, Dota 2 and others might suddenly be under pressure to change. Plus, the pressure is really on the development team at Valve to make this work, but if the game can make the transition successfully and keep the hoards of players happy, then there might be added impetus for other games to grow in the same way. It is amazing to think that Dota 2 has now been on the market for 10 years in its current form, a similar timeline to the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive game, which makes these games pretty old in industry terms, but hasn’t dented their popularity.
Games like PUBG are similar in some ways to the Counter-Strike games, and this has now been on the market for six years, but if you played it way back when it first released you’ll know that there have been new aspects added, and changed mechanics, plus different weapons introduced in updates. Games that don’t evolve could go the way of Flappy Birds.
CS:GO has grown pretty consistently over its long history, and got to a monthly average of one million concurrent users in June 2023. While some games are released with huge fanfare (think GTA), CS:GO has gradually built up to the level we see now. In gaming, a huge fanbase makes it even harder for the sequel, and the developers at Valve will need to live up to the hype they’ve made for themselves. Though the changes should strengthen the game’s competitive scene, it will be interesting to see if CS2 shakes up the top teams.